AAD 2014 SaveDate1a

Former SeaWorld Trainer & “Blackfish” Star to Join Lobby Day

Albany, N.Y. – 03/10/2014 – Senator Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) is pushing to pass a piece of legislation (S6613) that would ban the possession and harboring of killer whales in New York State aquariums and sea parks. Since it was introduced, the bill has gained support of John Hargrove, a former SeaWorld killer whale trainer and star of the documentary “Blackfish” as well as the support from Donald Rapier, a high school student at Chicago’s Robert Lindblom Math & Science Academy.

The legislation was introduced after the documentary “Blackfish” highlighted the captivity of Tilikum, an orca whale who has been in confinement for the past 30 years. The documentary shows how large marine animals, such as orca whales, can develop health issues and become agitated from living in the confined spaces such as aquariums and sea parks.

Senator Greg Ball is working to pass the bill during the 4th Annual NYS Animal Advocacy Day, which will be co-hosted with Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I – Glenville) on Wednesday, May 28th at the Well of the Legislative Office Building in Albany, NY. Animal Advocacy Day is a free, bipartisan event is open to the public and enables animal supporters to network, share information and lobby their legislators to raise awareness of the need to protect pets and people from abuse.

“The documentary ‘Blackfish’ opened a lot of eyes to the conditions orca whales are often subject to when they are held captive. These are huge, intelligent and majestic creatures and it is an atrocity that they sit captive in oversized tubs. We want to send a message as a state that we will never allow this type of cruelty in New York. This will be a highlight of animal advocacy day, but there are dozens of bills that we hope to pass this session. Most people can agree that the level of respect and kindness shown for animals, creatures who cannot speak for themselves, or protect themselves and are easily abused and taken advantage of, is a fine predictor of how a person will treat their peers. Violent and cruel behavior towards animals, cannot and should not be tolerated,” said Senator Greg Ball. “I am greatly looking forward to the 4th Annual Animal Advocacy Day, this is a wonderful event that continues to grow every year.”

John Hargrove, who was recently featured in the documentary “Blackfish”, will join Senator Ball in Albany on May 28th for Animal Advocacy Day. John Hargrove is a former killer whale trainer that spent nearly two decades in the industry working at SeaWorld of California and SeaWorld of Texas.

“It is my honor to join New York State Senator Greg Ball and all those who have made NYS Animal Advocacy Day possible for the 4th annual year in Albany. The unfortunate and appalling truth is that animals are abused and neglected every day. I am proud to stand with those who are fighting to stop animal cruelty and abuse. The statewide animal abuse registry that passed the Senate is just one example of the heroic work of Senator Ball and all those associated with this event. I support true legislative change such as this which ends animal cruelty and to speak and fight for animals who cannot speak or fight for themselves,” said John Hargrove.

Donald Rapier, a Junior at Lindblom Math and Science Academy in Chicago, who has been an advocate for animal rights, also plans on attending.

“I love the idea of having an Animal Awareness Day! I think it’s very important, in that many people believe that animals don’t need help, or many people believe that just because they, themselves, don’t own any pets, that this issue doesn’t apply to them. We all share this earth together, and we all have the responsibility to care for one another. People don’t realize how much the human race depends on animals, and how much they depend on us. Educating the world about why animal rights is just as important as any other national issue is the first step towards creating change, and I am really excited to see New York taking the lead in this much needed conversation on what can be done to stop animal abuse,” said Donald Rapier.

“As a former killer whale trainer, John Hargrove was a powerful voice for protecting Orca whales in the documentary film ‘Blackfish’. These majestic whales are truly one of God’s creatures and should not be kept in captivity as they are depicted in this eye-opening film. I look forward to Mr. Hargrove joining our constituents, Senator Ball and I, and many of our colleagues for the 4th Annual NYS Animal Advocacy Day so New Yorkers can give voice to those who have no voice and call for the strongest laws in the nation to protect all members of our family,” said Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, co-sponsor of NYS Animal Advocacy Day, and the driving force behind passage of the landmark Buster’s animal cruelty felony law.

A petition in support of the legislation has received over 8,000 signatures. To sign the petition visit:

For more information, please contact or (845) 531-9796


About Greg Ball

Assemblyman Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) is the Senator for New York State's 40th district. A former Vice President of Exceed International Development Corporation, Ball holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the United States Air Force Academy, is currently completing his Masters Thesis of Liberal Studies in International Affairs at Georgetown University, and received an honorable discharge in 2005 at the rank of Captain after service as an active duty officer in the United States Air Force. View all posts by Greg Ball →
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