SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Animal activists from as far as Europe came in support of an Assembly bill inspired by the documentary Blackfish.

Assembly Bill 2140, called The Orca Welfare and Safety Act, was put on hold, but not before supporters and detractors traded heated testimony on Tuesday.

Assemblyman Richard Bloom is the author of the bill, and his legislation has gained international support, with more than 1 million people signing a petition.

“Their swimming pool habitats are just a fraction of what they need,” he said.

Supporters gathered on Monday in advance of Tuesday’s hearing, and shared their concerns with the Assembly committee.

“SeaWorld has attempted to downplay these traumatizing events, saying they don’t separate their mothers from their calves,” said former orca trainer John Hargrove.

But SeaWorld’s staff ripped into “Blackfish,” calling it a “glorified term paper” with baseless propaganda and questionable scientific facts.

“AB2140 embraced animal rights rhetoric crusaded in a movie dominated by falsehoods and questionable filmmaking techniques, putting all of SeaWorld’s goodwill at risk,” Seaworld park president John Riley said.

Many from San Diego’s business community also gave lawmakers an ear full.

With standing room only inside and out, there was disappointment on one side and relief on the other when the final vote was tabled. The committee chair recommended an interim study, meaning a final vote won’t be made until next year.

Most of the lawmakers sitting on the committee say they already support the bill, but need to do more research before casting a vote.


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