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End of Orca Captivity in Sight
Support the ORCA Act 

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In Defense of Animals

The end of orca captivity has suddenly transitioned from a distant hope to an attainable reality, and all thanks to landmark legislation introduced recently. In November, 2015, Rep. Adam Schiff introduced a bill to phase out the captivity of orcas. This bill, the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act, amends the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to prohibit the breeding, wild capture, and import and export of orcas for public display and other purposes. The bill allows both time for businesses to phase out orcas on display, and to adjust their business models, and additionally ensures that the captivity of orcas ends with this generation.

There are many serious threats to the health and well being of orcas in captivity. The stress, boredom, and unnatural living conditions result in the majority of captive orcas dying before reaching age 25, while their wild counterparts live for 30-50 years. Orcas in the wild can swim 100 miles a day, and dive to depths of 300 feet, while captive orcas are confined in shallow tanks as small as 60 by 80 feet wide . As a result of the repetitive swimming patterns and constant exposure to surface waters necessitated by this type of confinement, all captive male orcas have fully collapsed dorsal fins – a condition this is exceedingly rare in the wild. Furthermore, captive orcas face threats from mosquito-borne illnesses, dehydration, and sun damage – issues that are virtually non-existent for orcas in the wild.

Despite these major threats to the health and happiness of captive orcas, the imprisonment is still legally viable according to current federal law. The federal government can issue permits allowing for the capture and import of orcas for display purposes. Although the wild capture of orcas in U.S. waters has not occurred for many years, orcas continue to be bred into captivity either through artificial insemination or physical mating, both of which would be banned by the ORCA Act. Without such legislation, there is no end in sight to the tragic cycle of captivity for orcas. While other charismatic mammals have received increased protections, such as the retirement of dolphins by the National Aquarium or the retirement of elephants by the Ringling Bros. Circus, no such actions have been proposed for captive orcas.  This legislation may be their only hope.

To read the ORCA Act bill, click here.

What you can do:



1) Make a call to your U.S. Representative.

Find the phone number of your elected official here.

Talking points:

  • Captivity significantly decreases the average life span of orcas from 30-50 years in the wild to less than 25 in captivity.
  • Orcas in captivity face threats from mosquito-borne illnesses, dehydration, sun damage, and dorsal fin collapse – threats that are nearly non-existent for orcas in the wild.
  • Orcas are social creatures who live in pods of up to 40 individuals and frequently spend their entire lives with their mothers. However, orcas in captivity have little contact with other orcas, and are often separated from their mothers before age 2.
  • Orcas are highly intelligent animals who can swim 100 miles a day and dive to depths of 300 feet when in the wild. Conversely, captive orcas are confined to shallow tanks as small as 60x80 feet with no environmental complexity.
  • The ORCA Act will end the breeding of orcas into captivity. Without this legislation, there is no end in sight for orca captivity.

2) Submit our letter below to your U.S. Representative.

Personalize and submit the form below to email your comments to:

  • Your U.S. Representative

(Valid U.S. street address is required - P.O. Boxes cannot be used*)

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Support the ORCA Act

Dear [Decision Maker],

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]