SeaWorld has announced it is planning to challenge a ruling banning the company from breeding captive killer whales.
The announcement comes a week after the California Coastal Commission backed a $100 million 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.
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 – an area in which the Commissioners have no education, training or expertise.
SeaWorld has come under criticism since the release of 2013 documentary Blackfish, which suggests its treatment of captive orcas provokes violent behavior. The company’s stock price also has dropped over the past two years.
The company has called the documentary “false and misleading”.
Several celebrities have recently suggested they’re not happy with SeaWorld’s treatment of its animals.
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”.
SeaWorld, 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.