The last orca to be born at a SeaWorld park has arrived. The announcement came as a result of animal rights protests over the company's orca program.
Takara the killer whale gave birth to her calf Wednesday at SeaWorld's San Antonio park. One of her calves has been loaned out to a park in Spain, and another one lives at the company's Florida theme park, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
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 birth of Takara's calf is also the last chance for researchers to study orca development in ways that can not be done in the wild, helping to benefit wild whales as well as those in SeaWorld's care", the company said in a statement issued on April. 19. A killer whale's pregnancy lasts roughly 18 months.
SeaWorld San Antonio welcomed an orca calf on Wednesday April 19, 2017 afternoon, the last to be born at a SeaWorld park. SeaWorld says the mother had a smooth delivery and both appear healthy. "It's a tempered celebration only because we're focused on the health of these guys". Researchers say they will use the birth of the baby to study orca development in ways that can't be done in the wild.
The film focused on an orca named Tilikum, who was involved in the deaths of three people. It brings SeaWorld's orca population in the U.S.to 23.
Visitors will have the opportunity see Takara and her calf in "the near future during select times", the company said in its statement.
"Throughout her life, Takara the orca has been artificially inseminated many times, separated from her mother and two of her children, and shuffled from theme park to theme park at SeaWorld's whim", PETA's statement said. It was 25-year-old Takara's fifth birth.
Takara, born at SeaWorld San Diego, has had four other calves, which now range in age from 3 to 15 years.
In March, Dold said SeaWorld remains committed to orca research and conservation, calling the last orca birth in captivity "a solemn reminder of how things can change and how things can be lost".