This Wednesday, SeaWorld San Antonio welcomed what will be the last orca whale born at the theme park after the company’s promise to end orca breeding. The mother of whale, Takara, is the 25-year-old matriarch of SeaWorld San Antonio and has had four previous children.
“Takara is a great mom and immediately began bonding with and caring for her new baby,” said Chris Bellows, the company's vice president of zoological operations.
Cute baby whales aside, controversy over whale captivity has cast a shadow on the company ever since the 2013 release of the damning documentary Blackfish.
SeaWorld has tried to repair the damage by calling off theatrical shows involving orcas and announcing last year an end to its breeding program. However, they might have stumbled backwards when they unveiled plans to resurrect their orca entertainment program as “natural orca encounters.”
The fate of Takara and her new baby might be contested, but no one except for PETA is holding their breath. The organization for animal rights called on SeaWorld to “spare her fifth calf a lifetime of suffering in prison by retiring both mother and child to a seaside sanctuary, where the baby may someday be reunited with Takara’s mother, other children, and grandchildren.”
It’s been a big year for killer whales. In January, two notable orcas died. The first, Granny, was a wild orca and the matriarch of a pod living near Seattle. She was believed to be 105 years old, and had been the subject of much marine research for the last 40. Tillikum, the male orca featured in Blackfish,who was involved in three human deaths, died at 36 years old after battling a bacterial lung infection.