The bill would have banned SeaWorld San Diego from using its 10 orcas for performance. The whales would have had to be returned to the sea if possible, or kept in ocean pens.
Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, head of the Parks, Water and Recreation Committee, said the decision for an "interim study" means no action is likely until at least the middle of next year. He said the issue, which involves the future of one of San Diego's major tourist attractions, could not be decided after a two-hour hearing.
SeaWorld San Diego opened in 1964 and made a star of Shamu, a female orca who was the first killer whale to survive captivity for more than 13 months. The orca shows in Shamu Stadium are the park's star event.
The California bill was inspired by the movie "Blackfish," a documentary that covers the death of a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando. The bill would also ban the breeding of killer whales in captivity.
Six of SeaWorld's orcas were born in captivity.
SeaWorld, lobbying against the bill, said it would no longer be able to carry on its orca rescue program. The company also said the whales now at the San Diego park would be moved to Orlando or San Antonio before it took effect if it passes.
The committee plans to examine the relative life spans of killer whales in captivity and the wild and how well they fare in captivity. Another question is whether penning orcas in the ocean is practical.
[Los Angeles Times]