Drawing the Curtain on Cetacean Captivity

Science increasingly supports the conclusion that, due to their size and their physiological and social needs, certain cetaceans cannot cope in captivity, where they are kept in small, impoverished environments and often die prematurely. AWI continues to work closely with Congress to update outdated federal regulations and advance legislation that reflects the latest scientific evidence. 

In January, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) reintroduced the Strengthening Welfare in Marine Settings (SWIMS) Act (S 3694/HR 7145). This legislation would phase out the captive display of the four larger cetacean species held by US marine theme parks and aquariums: orcas (also known as killer whales), beluga whales, pilot whales, and false killer whales. Specifically, it would prohibit the breeding, wild capture, and import and export of these species for the purpose of public display. The bill would not prohibit the continued holding of animals currently in captivity, thus providing the facilities time to transition to a more humane future.

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