By Lori Abbott
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A bill to ban killer whale shows at SeaWorld is being put on hold.
The Orca Welfare and Safety Act stalled in committee Tuesday, which means the earliest the bill can be re-heard is next year. The decision follows the delivery of a petition by three sixth-graders from Malibu who convinced their school to cancel a field trip to SeaWorld.
The students were joined by activists from the group SumOfUs.org, including Sahar Massachi, who said orcas will continue to suffer and workers will be in danger until the bill is passed.
"If the committee looks at the science, which is their justification for delaying it, they'll see that it's overwhelmingly the clear, scientific, correct, evidence-based thing to do, to pass the bill," he said.
The legislation was prompted by the movie "Blackfish," which documents the tragic 2010 death of a SeaWorld trainer and shows orcas being captured as babies from their families in the wild. SeaWorld disputes the allegations made in "Blackfish" and calls the film one-sided.
Sixth-grader Kirra Kotler said after seeing "Blackfish" she was able to convince her school and fellow classmates to skip their field trip to San Diego's SeaWorld and go whale watching. She explained how she convinced a friend:
"I told him, 'Would you rather see whales not treated right? Or would you rather see real whales in the ocean and go whale-watching?' "
The bill, AB-2140, would have made it illegal to use a wild-caught or captive-bred orca for entertainment purposes. Its text is online at legiscan.com. Audiofile.