Let’s End Orca Captivity in Florida

Even SeaWorld Orlando’s largest tank is just a glorified swimming pool. For an orca who can swim up to 140 miles a day and dive hundreds of feet deep, life in captivity is extreme confinement. If you’ve ever felt a sense of the great vastness of the ocean, it is truly to chilling to consider the life of a wild orca versus that of one in captivity. An orca in a tank is often compared to a human living in a bathtub.

Over the years, tireless education and advocacy campaigns have shined a light on the terrible cruelty of holding orcas in captivity, including many behavioral markers of extreme stress, physical injury, violence, and lifespans decades shorter than those of wild orcas. The stories of orcas who injure or kill trainers always make the headlines, but the tragedies never shock orca experts. Everything we know about holding orcas in captivity tells us to expect nothing less from huge, intelligent creatures held in torturous conditions.

Companies Can Break a Promise, Not a Law

The past few years have seen incredible, promising change in public opinion. The public knows now more than ever that captive orcas are suffering orcas, and SeaWorld has never been less popular. Changing sentiment coupled with our tenacious legal efforts, and well as those of other organizations, brought about SeaWorld’s historic announcement that it would end captive breeding of orcas and phase out its program forcing the orcas to perform.

To codify SeaWorld’s promise, and save countless orcas from suffering through a life in captivity, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with a coalition of animal protection, environmental, and marine conservation groups are proposing the Florida Orca Protection Act.

The Florida Orca Protection Act would prohibit breeding captive orcas, thus ensuring that those orcas currently in captivity in Florida would be the last generation condemned to life in confinement.  The Act would also prohibit the transport of orcas into Florida or out of North America, unless the transport was to a seaside sanctuary.  Moreover, the Act would guarantee that those orcas already held in captivity in Florida would only be held for research or rehabilitation purposes and that any public displays must be strictly educational.  This bill is consistent with SeaWorld’s new policy ending its orca breeding program and phasing out entertainment shows in Florida in favor of “natural orca encounters” by 2019 (California has already replaced its theatrical show with the “orca encounter”).

With the recent death of Tilikum and the continued plight of Lolita, an orca who was captured in 1970 and lives alone in a small tank in Miami, it’s critical that this law be passed now so no additional orcas experience a similar fate.

Spread the Word

Social media can be a powerful tool. Use it to encourage Florida residents to spread the word and contact their state representatives in support of the Florida Orca Protection Act. Download share graphics and use our sample language to show your support.


The Animal Legal Defense Fund is compiling resources and reference information that can help you rally support for the Florida Orca Protection Act.

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