An online petition set up to force SeaWorld to release orcas from captivity has attracted support from over 1m people. But the Californian marine park chain has hit back after reportedly hiring a former BP lobbyist to help fight its corner.
If successful, the Orca Welfare and Safety Act will ban Californian marine parks from keeping whales for entertainment purposes. As of Sunday morning, 1,013,613 had lent their names to the campaign.
In an email sent to supporters, the campaign website SumOfUs said, “If the bill passes, it would ban SeaWorld’s imprisonment of whales once and for all.
“But SeaWorld just hired a former British Petroleum (BP) lobbyist to defeat this bill and make sure it can keep turning a profit while torturing poor orcas. We know SeaWorld is terrified – it wouldn’t spend money on such an expensive hired gun if it wasn’t”.
Pete Montgomery, who was director of government affairs at the oil firm, will be tasked with trying to convince lawmakers that the proposed bill has no grounds.
The SumOfUs campaign follows proposals by Californian state legislator Richard Bloom, who introduced plans to ban whale captivity earlier this month, with punishments ranging from fines of $100,000 (£60,000) to six months imprisonment.
“There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes”, Bloom said in a statement.
“These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete pens for their entire lives. It is time to end the practice of keeping orcas captive for human amusement.”
A spokesperson for the SeaWorld chain recently told LA Times that the proposed legislation was “flawed” and said that its validity was “highly questionable”.