Something like this was bound to pop up in the wake of the acclaimed documentary Blackfish: a California state assemblyman named Richard Bloom has proposed a bill that would ban orcas from being used for performative reasons.
Though the language of the legislation is stiffly formal, there is no doubt that this is about putting SeaWorld more or less out of business. In announcing the bill on Friday, Bloom appeared alongside Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and two ex-SeaWorld trainers.
After the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, SeaWorld's business has been teetering, and it has only gotten rockier since Blackfish debuted last year. Late in 2013, SeaWorld appealed an Occupational Safety & Health Administration ruling that severely limits interactions between trainers and killer whales. (SeaWorld's lawyer, by the way, is Anton Scalia's son.) It has also targeted an OSHA official that it alleges leaked classified documents to the producers of Blackfish.
The park has also slashed admission prices after plummeting attendance led to two straight quarters of negative net revenue. Things picked up for SeaWorld at the end of last year, but the worst is yet to come: the company has over $1 billion in debt, which it refinanced with a $1.4 billion loan last year.
That money is owed back by 2020, but if the backlash instigated by Blackfish continues its momentum, creditors may find themselves shit out of luck.