It's an Orca! Last Killer Whale is Born at a SeaWorld Park
00:28, Apr 21, 2017
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Last year, SeaWorld announced it would phase out killer whale shows. The company based in Orlando, Fla., announced the birth Wednesday.
The last orca to be born at a SeaWorld park, which popularized killer whale shows in the 1960s but faced growing opposition in recent years, has been born in Texas at SeaWorld San Antonio. The amusement park giant announced a year ago it will end its orca breeding program and stop the shows after pressure from animal rights advocates and public perception following the release of the film 'Blackfish'.
The little one - whose gender is not yet known - is the last orca to be born in captivity at any SeaWorld park after major backlash from 2013's documentary Blaskfish. The mother, Takara, is a 25-year-old orca who was born in captivity in San Diego. The gestation period for killer whales is between 17 and 18 months.
"Although this is the last killer whale birth at a SeaWorld park, our work to understand and protect this species will continue for decades to come", said Dr. Hendrik Nollens, Vice President of Veterinary Services for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
"Takara will let us know when she is ready for us to meet the calf and at that time we should be able to determine the gender", said Julie Sigman, an assistant curator at SeaWorld San Antonio, in a statement. "It's a tempered celebration only because we're focused on the health of these guys", Dold added. Observations about the calf and Takara by SeaWorld trainers will be provided from the moment of birth to researchers trying to fill gaps in their data about wild killer whales. In the film, former SeaWorld trainers blamed the company, saying the stress of captivity is risky for both whales and trainers. Most of the whales now on display were born, and have lived their entire lives, in captivity at SeaWorld. He went on to say that SeaWorld would not free its orcas because the time spent in captivity meant they would likely die in open waters.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), called for the unnamed baby orca and her mother to be transferred to a seaside sanctuary for the remainder of their lives.
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