SeaWorld sued the California Coastal Commission for approving a new orca enclosure, but only with the condition that the park stop breeding and transferring its killer whales.
The lawsuit, filed in San Diego Superior Court, argues that the state panel does not have the authority to impose a “no-breeding” restriction because it does not have jurisdiction over the marine mammals, which are regulated under federal law. It said condition on the construction project that would more than double the enclosure size for the park’s 11 killer whales.
Eight of SeaWorld’s 11 orcas are the result of captive breeding, the lawsuit said. “SeaWorld has not collected an orca from the wild in more than 35 years and has committed to not doing so in the future.”
The Coastal Commission, which oversees development along California’s coast, voted in October to add the no-breeding condition after hours of testimony by critics of SeaWorld, who called on the park to free the whales.
SeaWorld officials vowed to sue to challenge the decision, saying the no-breeding clause would ultimately put an end to the park’s most popular exhibit, the killer whale show, the complaint said.
“The Coastal Commission has neither the legal jurisdiction nor, accordingly, the expertise, to dictate the care, feeding or breeding of animals held solely in captivity under human care, ” according to the lawsuit.
The complaint asks Court to either order the the restrictions be removed or order a new hearing of the “Blue World, ” development proposal, without the restrictions on breeding and transfer.
Blackstone Group, led by Stephen Schwarzman acquired Busch Entertainment in 2009 for $2.7 billion