The Law and Orca Breeding Programs
For decades, whale watching has been entertaining the public at parks located throughout Alaska. Killer whales and other ocean giants have captivated the attention of people from all over the world. Even though there is no law currently prohibiting the showing of killer whales in actual shows, there are regulations that govern these facilities that house them. There are also a lot of public pressure applied to keep these magnificent creatures off the beaches of Alaska because of possible harm to them and the possibility of collisions with ships. For this reason, whales are usually kept in breeding pens and tank areas where they can be protected from humans and other animals.
One of the most important factors in keeping killer whales and orca whales in their natural habitats is their safety. The activities that they engage in sometimes put their lives in jeopardy. This is why all of the marine mammal parks and facilities require an adequate amount of experience for their trainers before being allowed to handle the animals. This is why you will find that there are strict regulations that are implemented to protect these amazing animals. In addition to the expertise of the trainers, it is also absolutely essential that there is an expert in place at any time to witness any activity that might pose a risk to their well being.
A large part of this requirement is the implementation of a “slip and fall” law. Orcas are intelligent animals and if they become scared during their day of captivity then it can be very dangerous for them. The inability to see their environment on a regular basis can lead to a mental trauma that can lead to harm being done. If an orca is injured and unable to move then it will be in violation of its welfare and the hands of the trainer.
The federal government is responsible for implementing all federal animal welfare laws and any company that have facilities or operations in the United States must comply with all of the federal regulations. These laws have been in place since 1971 and were revised in 2021. Part of the federal law requires that companies holding captive orcas give an opportunity for the orcas to have a chance to return to the wild. It also requires that all such facilities provide for the long term health and wellbeing of these intelligent animals. This requirement was required due to the threat that a captive orca could become damaged or lost.
If an orca is removed from its natural habitat and placed in a captivity facility for an extended period of time then it may develop stress and begin to suffer from mental disorders. An area that is held in captivity for longer than the recommended amount of time is considered to be in poor health. If the area is kept in a captive setting for too long then it will not be able to feel or sense the differences between the wild and the captive environment. This will in effect cause the area to develop anxiety or depression. Orcas that are kept in captivity for too long are also less likely to be able to interact with other area’s they might originally have been accustomed to.
There is a loophole in the law regarding Orcas. It states that cetaceans that are kept in captivity for purposes of being exported must be taken by land. However, this loophole allows marine mammals like whales and dolphins to be taken by air if they are carried aboard commercial aircraft. There have been very few attempts by a company to capture a whale by using airplanes. The main reason for this is because most large whales are found off the west coast of America and the laws surrounding these marine mammals are much different than the laws surrounding cetaceans.
The main issue with attempting to use legislation to force the United States to allow the capturing of cetaceans in order to put them in captivity is that the likelihood of success is not great. The legislation would be viewed by most countries as completely unwarranted and would in fact lead to the ban of these majestic mammals in the future. Even the best efforts would be considered a failure. The main reason for this is because these particular populations are so unreadable that they cannot reproduce without help from outside sources. This means that even if we do get an attempt at breeding areas through breeding methods, it is highly unlikely that the numbers would ever exceed the numbers of wild captures.
So the bottom line is, California’s or breeding program is in place to allow a few select species of these magnificent mammals to be protected and sold as pets. If these populations were to be allowed to become overpopulated there would be no place for these gorgeous animals. The state has the ability to control overpopulation through mandatory monitoring and can do so through captive breeding programs that are carefully monitored by state and federal agencies. It is only through such measures will the future of these magnificent creatures be guaranteed. Please take action now and support the conservation of California’s orca populations!