SeaWorld plan to challenge killer whale breeding ban

whale at seaworld

SeaWorld has said it plans to challenge a ruling banning the company from breeding captive killer whales.

The announcement comes a week after the California Coastal Commission backed a $100m (£64.8m) expansion of SeaWorld's orca tanks in San Diego.

However, the enclosure improvements also outlined a series of restrictions, including a ban on breeding the whales.

SeaWorld said it would "pursue legal action" over the ruling.

killer whale plans
Image caption SeaWorld's Blue World expansion plan would triple the size of existing killer whale enclosures

Company President Joel Manby said: "The Coastal Commission went way beyond its jurisdiction and authority when it banned breeding by killer whales at SeaWorld.

"It simply defies common sense that a straightforward land-use permit approval would turn into a ban on animal husbandry practices.

"To say that this is a dubious decision with no legal basis is an understatement, which is why we must and will challenge the Commission's decision."

Image caption Protesters turned up when SeaWorld's expansion ruling was announced

SeaWorld has come under criticism since the release of 2013 documentary Blackfish, which suggests its treatment of captive orcas provokes violent behaviour. The company's stock price also has dropped over the past two years.

SeaWorld has called the film "false and misleading".

Several celebrities have recently suggested they're not happy with SeaWorld's treatment of its animals, including Harry Styles When one Direction played in San Diego.

Noaki Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the commission said it received more than 120,000 emails about the SeaWorld proposed expansion, mostly from people opposing the plans.

The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA], said the Coastal Commission hadn't overstepped the mark with the ruling and that "SeaWorld is blowing smoke".

But SeaWold, which plans to build two new tanks for viewing and research, said breeding is "a natural, fundamental and important part of an animal's life and depriving a social animal of the right to reproduce is inhumane".

The commission said it had not seen a legal complaint and could not comment.

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