California lawmaker wants to ban captivity of orcas

In what could be another major blow to SeaWorld, Rep. Adam Schiff announced Friday he plans to introduce federal legislation that would ban the captivity of orcas.

"The evidence is very strong that the psychological and physical harm done to these magnificent animals far outweighs any benefits reaped from their display,'' said Schiff, D-Burbank. "We cannot be responsible stewards of our natural environment and propagate messages about the importance of animal welfare when our behaviors do not reflect our principles.''

Schiff said his proposed Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act would phase out the captivity of orcas, so no future generations of killer whales can be kept on display.

The legislation would effectively end the famed Shamu killer whale shows at SeaWorld parks in San Diego and around the country.

Officials from SeaWorld San Diego could not be immediately reached for comment.

The San Diego theme park already took a hit last month when the California Coastal Commission approved an expansion of its killer whale exhibit but ordered an end to the breeding of captive orcas at the park. That ban would also eventually phase out the Shamu exhibit.

SeaWorld plans to challenging the commission's ruling.

SeaWorld has suffered dipping attendance since the release of the documentary film "Blackfish,'' which focused on the treatment of orcas at the park.

On Monday, SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby is expected to announce plans for a new attraction designed to boost attendance -- possibly using some of the $100 million the park planned to spend on the expanded orca tanks.

Copyright 2015 FOX 11 Los Angeles: Download our mobile app for breaking news alerts or to watch FOX 11 News | Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.