Whale and dolphin captivity giant, SeaWorld has announced that its staff are preparing for what should be the last orca calf to be born into captivity at one of its facilities. The calf is expected to be delivered in the next four to six weeks at SeaWorld San Antonio.
Just under a year ago, Sea World announced that it would end orca breeding but Takara, a 25-year-old orca originally from SeaWorld San Diego, was already pregnant when the announcement was made.
The decision to end captive breeding of orcas, and the theatrical shows that they perform in, came after sustained pressure on the company regarding the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity. In recent years SeaWorld has seen corporate partners walking away, falling profits, and various scandals.
The end to breeding means that this generation of captive orcas the last to be kept by SeaWorld, but the company has announced that the orcas currently held captive will remain in their small tanks and form part of a new, more ‘natural encounter’ show, with a rocky coastline and giant digital information screen for the public to see starting this summer.
Many critics argue that little will change for the orcas who remain confined to a life swimming round and round in tanks. Following the death of Tilikum recently, SeaWorld now holds 28 of the 61 orcas currently held in captivity, plus numerous dolphins and belugas captive who still perform tricks for ‘entertainment’.
WDC will continue to work towards the creation of more naturalistic sea pen sanctuaries where captive orcas can be retired.