MIAMI (AP) - The last killer whale to be born in captivity has arrived at a SeaWorld park. The birth at the San Antonio, Texas, theme park comes a year after SeaWorld's decision to stop breeding orcas. It's the last in a generation of whales bred in confinement.
Takara gave birth to the newest member of the SeaWorld family of killer whales at 2:33 p.m. CST, Wednesday, April 19, at SeaWorld San Antonio. The park said veterinarians and killer whale trainers were present during this big day and are continuing to monitor Takara and her baby 24-hours a day. SeaWorld's chief zoological officer, Chris Dold, told The Associated Press that calf and mother were swimming calmly after a smooth labor.
“Nothing can prepare you for that moment when mom helps the calf get to the surface for its first breath. The second the calf is born, Takara is 100% focused on its care and well-being. She knows exactly what to do. It is amazing,” said Julie Sigman, an Assistant Curator at SeaWorld San Antonio.
Veterinarians haven't yet determined whether the calf's male or female. According to Sigman, “We take our lead from mom. Takara will let us know when she is ready for us to meet the calf and begin developing a trusting relationship, just like we have with Takara."
The mother, 25-year-old Takara, was already pregnant when SeaWorld announced in March 2016 it had stopped breeding its orcas, following years of animal rights protests and declining ticket sales. Gestation for orcas lasts about 18 months.
SeaWorld says both mom and calf appear healthy.