Photo: Children get an up-close look at a killer whale in San Diego's SeaWorld in 2014. Credit: Reuters California has become the first US state to ban both orca breeding and the captivity of the animals, also known as killer whales.
Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Orca Protection Act into law Tuesday, making both activities illegal in his state.
The law will go into effect in June 2017, CNN reports. Then, captive killer whales already in the state will only be allowed to be shown for "educational purposes."
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The move comes at a time when signs seem to point toward an end to the animal's often controversial status as aquarium show draws whose homes are less than humane.
The possibility of a federal ban similar to California's was raised late last year by California rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), though no such nationwide law has yet been passed.
SeaWorld, for its part, announced at the same time a plan to phase out killer whale shows at its parks. And, in March of this year, the company announced it would stop breeding orcas.
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The California law allows for killer whales to be rescued as well as used for research, but it urges the marine mammals' release back into the wild whenever possible, according to the International Business Times.
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