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Washington Lawmaker Proposes Ban On Whale, Dolphin Performances

Robert Pittman
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SeaWorld is famous for its choreographed dolphin and Orca whale performances. Now a Washington state lawmaker wants to make sure what happens at SeaWorld stays at SeaWorld.

Washington state Sen. Kevin Ranker introduced legislation to prohibit marine mammal shows in Washington.

Several years ago, Ranker visited SeaWorld San Diego.

“It was a very powerful experience for me and not a positive one,” he recalled.

Ranker, a Democrat, wants to make it a crime for a zoo or aquarium in Washington to hold a wild-caught or captive-bred whale, dolphin or porpoise for purposes of entertainment or performance.

“They’re used to swimming hundreds and hundreds and thousands of miles, and we’re putting them in tanks the size of the Washington state Senate floor,” Ranker said. “It’s disgusting.”

Ranker’s proposal would make an exception for zoos and aquariums to hold these marine mammals temporarily for rehabilitation or research.

In a statement, SeaWorld said it’s committed to animal welfare and calls its whale and dolphin shows educational and enriching.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.