New Calf Born In Captivity Is SeaWorld's Last

Nick Mcbride
April 21, 2017

It's official - the LAST baby killer whale to be born in captivity at any SeaWorld park has arrived.

The company based in Orlando, Florida, said the calf was born Wednesday afternoon.

Say hello to the newest addition at SeaWorld San Antonio, a baby orca!

Takara, the mother of the newborn calf, already had been pregnant through natural breeding when SeaWorld made that announcement in March 2016, the company said. The gestation period for orcas is about 18 months.

Despite the criticism over their breeding programme, SeaWorld's chief zoological officer, Chris Dold, described the birth was a celebration because any whale birth is "extraordinary".

Performances of killer whales at SeaWorld will end by 2019.

The company said past year that it couldn't release its orcas into the wild because most were born and raised in captivity and "will likely die" if set free. This includes a commitment of $10 million in matching funds dedicated to killer whale research and the creation of a multi-million dollar partnership focused on ocean health, the leading concern for all killer whales and marine mammals.

As NPR's Greg Allen has reported, SeaWorld's treatment of its orcas came under scrutiny with the release of the 2013 documentary Blackfish. It focused on the orca Tilikum, which killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in Orlando in 2010, dragging her into the pool before shocked visitors after a "Dine with Shamu" show.

Tilikum, which sired 14 calves over almost 25 years in Orlando, died of bacterial pneumonia in January. She previously given birth to four other calves - two of them are at SeaWorld San Antonio. SeaWorld San Antonio in Texas welcomed a baby orca on April. 19, and we are turning to mush over these pics of the calf swimming with its mom Takara. Veterinarian teams at each theme park will use both birth control and "social management" to prevent the 23 remaining orca whales from breeding while in captivity.

The last baby orca calf can be viewed by SeaWorld guests as park staffers share information and observations about the whale. It has been nearly four decades since the park has removed an orca from the wild.

The last baby orca born in captivity at SeaWorld will reportedly be allowed to remain with its mother.

Other reports by VgToday

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