SeaWorld San Diego has been given permission to build a large tank for orcas, however, it can no longer breed them in captivity. The large exhibit in the form of a tank would include space for 11 marine animals at the SeaWorld.
The decision was made public by the California Coastal Commission on Oct. 8. However, it seems that the dispute between SeaWorld and the commission could end up being discussed in the court.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the commission staff and the SeaWorld attorneys have been having a debate over whether the 1966 federal Animal Welfare Act gives the commission the right over management and to take care of captive orcas, also known as killer whales.
If the SeaWorld authorities decide to go to court to reverse the commission's decision, then the issue of the authority of the state against Federal agencies over the marine animals would become central in nature. However, SeaWorld officials have not declared yet whether they are planning to file a litigation against the decision.
Meanwhile, the theme park's Blue World project has been given the permission to expand its orcas tank from 5.8 million-gallons to 9.6 million-gallons. SeaWorld said that the $100 million project would help both the marine animals and the park's visitors. The 50 feet deep and 1.5 acres wide new tanks are expected to open in 2018.
The commission's decision to ban captive breeding of orcas has received mixed reviews from the public. While the decision has been applauded by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other animal activists, some seem merely disappointed.
"We are disappointed with the conditions that the California Coastal Commission placed on their approval of the Blue World Project, and will carefully review and consider our options," said John Reilly, a Sand Diego park president. "Breeding is a natural, fundamental and important part of an animal’s life and depriving a social animal of the right to reproduce is inhumane."