SeaWorld’s last orca has been born at a theme park in Texas.
Takara, the 25 year-old mother, gave birth to the calf at SeaWorld San Antonio on 19 April 2017.
The baby killer whale will be the last born at a SeaWorld park, after the operator announced an end to its orca breeding programme last year. Takara was already pregnant when decision was made in March 2016.
“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, SeaWorld’s vice president of veterinary services. “Takara and her calf are an important part of not only educating the visitors who see them at the parks, but also ongoing research that helps marine biologists understand how to better care for and protect orcas in the wild.
“We are very pleased that this birth will be able to continue to add to this body of knowledge for this iconic species,” he added.
SeaWorld ended its orca breeding programme following pressure from animal welfare groups, triggered in part by the controversial movie, “Blackfish”.
But the end of one era for the company comes as SeaWorld embarks on another new journey, with plans to open its first overseas theme park in the UAE in 2022.