(NaturalNews) Today the International Marine Mammal Project http://immp.eii.org of Earth Island Institute, Flipper's original trainer Ric O'Barry, and the Free Willy Keiko Foundation joined to call for an end to the sale, purchase or trade of captive orcas in California and a ban on holding orcas in small concrete tanks to do circus performances for human entertainment.
These provisions are part of a landmark bill (AB 2140) by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica). Final wording of the bill has just been released. (click here for the full text: http://dolphinproject.org/blog/post/assembly-bill-full-text). The bill will be heard on Tuesday April 8th in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee of the California Legislature in Sacramento, and on Wednesday, April 22nd, in the Assembly Arts and Entertainment Committee. For a full list of Assemblymembers and contact information, see here: http://dolphinproject.org
"It's time to move beyond holding orcas in concrete tanks to perform circus acts," stated David Phillips, Director of Earth Island Institute's International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP). "Orcas are large, intelligent, wide-roaming, and heavily dependent on their wild families. They deserve better than shortened lives in small tanks. "
Ric O'Barry, Director of Earth Island Institute's Dolphin Project, trained the original dolphins in the television series Flipper and also trained the first orca, Hugo, held in captivity on the East Coast. Ric is the star of the Academy-Award winning documentary The Cove. "Orcas are dying in captivity far more frequently than in the wild and at younger ages because of the stress and the impossibility of captive facilities being able to provide a habitat anywhere close to their needs. Orcas have never killed a human in the wild, but they have killed four people (including three trainers) in captivity and have injured many more."
O'Barry added: "Orcas still in captivity simply must be retired and put in sea pens where they can have a much more natural and free life. Some may be released back into the wild, but the main thing is to stop the breeding and sale of these animals and get them into sea pens where their mental and physical health can improve."
Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director of IMMP, stated: "AB 2140 is strongly opposed by SeaWorld, who has hired a Sacramento oil industry lobbyist no less to kill the bill. We are urging people to immediately contact their Assemblymember in support of this bill, especially Assemblymembers on the two policy committees."
The Free Willy Keiko Foundation moved the orca whale Keiko from a cramped pool in Mexico to an educational facility in Oregon before moving him to a sea pen in Iceland. "We know this can be done, because we did it with Keiko", stated David Phillips. "Millions of people came to see Keiko in Oregon and watch his rehabilitation. You don't need trainers riding orcas' backs and diving through hoops to educate the public. SeaWorld's circus acts are bad for orcas and devoid of educational value."