Using SeaWorld as a case study, this Note will argue that existing federal and state legislation fails to protect captive orcas from cruel and harmful treatment while in captivity.

Part I of this Note will address the gaps in federal and state animal welfare and cruelty legislation relevant to captive orcas. Part II will discuss the enactment of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act of 2019 (“PACT Act”), the first federal animal cruelty statute. Part III will use SeaWorld as a case study to test the effectiveness of the PACT Act in criminalizing animal cruelty at the federal level. Finally, Part IV will discuss ways in which Congress could amend the PACT Act or use it as a model for a more comprehensive federal animal cruelty statute and include protections for animals suffering cruel and inhumane treatment in captivity.