SeaWorld announces it will sue Commission’s ban on orca breeding

San Diego (KUSI) – Last week, the California Coastal Commission issued a largely-publicized ruling that would end the breeding of captive killer whales at Sea World’s San Diego park. This week, Seaworld fired back. 

SeaWorld Entertainment announced Thursday it will sue the commission’s contidiotnal approval of a permit that would allow SeaWorld to expand its orca tanks while prohibiting the breeding of the captive killers. 

While the decision was championed as a major victory for animal rights activists, for SeaWorld, the inability to breed orca whales would eventually spell the end of its trademark shows.

Calling the ruling "overreaching," SeaWorld said it intends to argue that animal welfare falls under the jurisdiction of federal and state laws, not the commission’s board.

“As a regulatory board charged with managing coastal development and related land-use decisions, the Coastal Commission went way beyond its jurisdiction and authority when it banned breeding by killer whales at SeaWorld,” said Joel Manby, president and CEO of Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment.

“By imposing broad new jurisdiction over all future SeaWorld marine animal projects, as well as aquarium projects elsewhere in the state, the commission has overstepped both federal and California law," Manby said. “It simply defies common sense that a straightforward land-use permit approval would turn into a ban on animal husbandry practices — an area in which the commissioners have no education, training or expertise. ”

SeaWorld recently not to increase its orca population by means other than occasional captive births or government-authorized rescues. SeaWorld also pledged in February 2014 that they would no longer house orcas taken from the wild nor utilize killer whale genetic material obtained from the wild.

The recent ruling by the commission, while green-lighting a project that would add two orca pools to SeaWorld San Diego, one a 5.2 million gallon tank and the other holding 450,000 gallons, lessens the need for the tanks that would replace the current 1.7 million gallon facility.

Park officials said they have not captured orcas in the wild for decades.

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