Last Orca Born at SeaWorld Park

Mother was pregnant before breeding ban
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 20, 2017 8:16 AM CDT
Last Orca Born at SeaWorld Park
Takara helps guide her newborn to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio, Wednesday, April 19, 2017.   (Chris Gotshall)

Officials at SeaWorld say the last killer whale has been born in captivity at one of its parks—in San Antonio. The orca's birth Wednesday afternoon comes in the wake of a 2016 decision by the Florida-based company to stop breeding killer whales. SeaWorld didn't immediately name the calf because the park's veterinarians have not yet determined whether it is male or female. The mother, 25-year-old Takara, was already pregnant last year when SeaWorld stopped the breeding program. The gestation period for orcas is about 18 months. SeaWorld says the mother had a smooth delivery and both appear healthy.

SeaWorld's chief zoological officer, Chris Dold, tells the AP that the birth was one of those "extraordinary moments." SeaWorld says the calf—one of a couple of dozen orcas that will remain in the company's parks for decades to come—represents the last chance for visitors and researchers to witness the growth and maturation of a young orca outside its natural setting, the San Antonio Express-Tribune reports. There are two male orcas at the San Antonio park and SeaWorld thinks Kyuquot is the father, but it will carry out tests to make sure. (Blackfish orca Tilikum sired 14 calves before his death this year.)

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