Quantcast
Popular

PETA Urges SeaWorld to Allow Last Orca Mother to Give Birth in Seaside Sanctuary

Meet Takara, a 25-year-old pregnant orca living in SeaWorld San Antonio in Texas. Takara's newborn, expected to arrive in Spring 2017, will be the last remaining orca to live its life in SeaWorld's tanks after the ocean park announced in March it would end its captive orca breeding program after years of campaigning from animal welfare groups and concerned citizens.


But in a new push from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the animal rights group is calling on SeaWorld to allow Takara to give birth in a seaside sanctuary so that her calf will never have to see the inside of a concrete tank.

On its SeaWorld of Hurt website, PETA details the "tragic" story of Takara's life. In the wild, orcas often live with their mothers for life but Takara herself was born in captivity in SeaWorld San Diego in 1991. Her parents—Kasatka and Kotar—were caught in Iceland in 1978. Kasatka, Takara's mother, is currently at SeaWorld San Diego. Takara's father, Kotar, died in 1995 in San Antonio after a pool gate he was playing with accidentally closed onto his head and caused a fractured skull.

Takara has already given birth to four other calves, two of which were taken to other parks. Her daughter Kohana was born in 2002 when Takara was 11. At the age of 3, Kohana was transferred to the notorious Loro Parque in Spain in 2006. Her son, Trua, was born in 2005 and now lives in Florida. Takara's youngest children, Sakari and Kamea, born in 2010 and 2013 respectively, live with their mother in San Antonio.

In an Instagram video from Liberate Cetaceans, footage shot in December shows young Kamea possibly signaling to her mother, Takara, that she wants to nurse. Judging by the date the video was taken, is it likely that Takara was already pregnant. Liberate Cetaceans alleges that SeaWorld allowed Takara to get pregnant even though she was still nursing Kamea.

"Why did SeaWorld choose to breed (or allow to breed) a female with an already dependent calf?" the post reads. "What an incredibly immoral decision."

The post follows:

Takara is well known for being hormonal, unpredictable, and generally unpleasant during the early stages of pregnancy. This means Kamea will be at risk of being ignored and neglected or even attacked. When the new calf comes, Takara's focus will be on the calf and not Kamea. A still very dependent Kamea may find herself without her mother's affections/ attention and will have no other mature females to turn to for comfort. If Kamea is still nursing when the new calf comes along, not only will this put incredible stress on Takara, but this will also mean the calves are competing for milk.

On SeaWorld's own website, it states that "most killer whale calves born at SeaWorld generally nurse for about a year, but may continue to nurse occasionally for as long as two years. This corresponds with observations in the wild."

Crunching the math, Liberate Cetaceans brought attention to the frequency in which Takara has given birth while at SeaWorld's parks, a rate that appears to be unnatural in the wild.

In the wild females typically give birth to a calf every 6-10 years and have 4-6 calves in their lifetime. This will be Takara's fifth calf and (if born this year) her third calf in just 6 years! So many pregnancies close together will put a lot of pressure on her body. As wild females tend to have their first calf at 14/15 and Takara is 24 (first impregnated at 11) she should have only had 2 calves (maximum) at this point in her life, not 4 with another on the way! Takara had one Kohana taken from her when she was only 3, and was moved whilst pregnant away from her only male calf, Trua, who was also 3 at the time.

SeaWorld states on its website, "based on limited data collected from populations at sea and in zoological facilities, a female may bear a calf every 3 to 5 years. In some cases, a female may not have another calf for 10 years."

EcoWatch reached out to SeaWorld for comment on both PETA's campaign and the Liberate Cetaceans post. The company had not responded as of press time, but did respond via email Wednesday with this statement:

SeaWorld made historic decisions to make this the last generation of orca whales, end theatrical performances with the whales and partner with the Humane Society of the United States [HSUS]. Society has changed and we've changed with it. Unfortunately, it appears PETA hasn't.

Placing any of the orcas we care for into their proposed sea cages would expose them to disease, pollution and other man-made and natural disasters. PETA's ideas are simplistic and don't take into account that the majority of the whales at SeaWorld were born in human care or have spent almost their entire lives at our facilities. We're focusing our resources on real issues that help far more animals, like working with HSUS to fight commercial whaling, shark finning, and continuing our efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured and sick animals to the wild. Read more here.

SeaWorld has faced intense scrutiny ever since the 2013 documentary Blackfish exposed the plight of orcas in captivity. The film has sparked a massive public outcry against keeping these large creatures in small tanks since in the wild they swim up to 100 miles per day.

SeaWorld has previously said that their killer whales would not survive in the wild if they were to be released. "SeaWorld has not collected an orca from the wild in almost 40 years, and the vast majority of our orcas were born under human care. These orcas have never lived in the wild and could not survive in oceans that include environmental concerns such as pollution and other man-made threats."

Alongside its announcement to cease captive orca breeding, SeaWorld is also phasing out its theatrical "Shamu" show. Instead, SeaWorld visitors will get to see the orcas in redesigned pools that have a more naturalistic setting. Guests will get to observe the creatures through "educational encounters" starting in the San Diego park in 2017, followed by the parks in San Antonio and Orlando.

In a sad twist, around the same time SeaWorld made the two announcements, Tilikum, the killer whale at the center of the Blackfish, was found to be in deteriorating health. SeaWorld's teams are treating him for what they believe is a bacterial infection in his lungs, the company said on its Facebook page.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Politics
Children fishing in Tamil Nadu, the Indian region where protests took place partly over concerns of a copper smelter's impact on fish. Abhishek.cty / CC BY-SA 4.0

Police Open Fire on Pollution Protesters in India, Killing at Least 9

A protest of a controversial copper smelter in the Tamil Nadu state on the southeastern tip of India took a violent turn Tuesday when police opened fire on demonstrators, killing at least nine, Reuters reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Eagle Creek fire. Curtis Perry / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Teen Ordered to Pay $36.6 Million For Starting Oregon Wildfire

A teenager who admitted to starting the Eagle Creek Canyon wildfire in Oregon that singed approximately 48,000 acres of forest land in September was ordered to pay $36.6 million in restitution.

Hood River County Circuit Judge John A. Olson admitted that the youngster will probably never be able to pay the total amount, but was obligated under state law to issue the full award to the victims of the massive blaze, including residents whose properties burned down and the state and federal departments that fought the fire, The Oregonian reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine / Flickr / CC0 1.0

Shell Shareholders Vote Down Climate Change Proposal But Signal They Still Want Action

A vast majority of Royal Dutch Shell shareholders voted down a proposal calling on the company to set specific targets for lowering its carbon dioxide emissions on Tuesday, putting their faith in the company's internal plans to fight climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
NPCA Online / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Sideline 100 Miles of Construction in Virginia and West Virginia

Builders of the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline told federal authorities they will delay construction along 21 miles in West Virginia and 79 miles in Virginia until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issues a revised "incidental take statement," which limits the number of threatened or endangered species that might be accidentally killed or harmed during development activities.

Lead developer Dominion Energy filed documents Tuesday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in response to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling last week. The court sided with environmental groups and their lawyers that the FWS' initial review was not clear enough in the case of the $6.5 billion pipeline and vacated one of its key permits.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Solar, coal and natural gas are prominent at the Big Bend Power Station and Manatee Viewing Center parking lot in Apollo Beach, FL. Walter / CC BY 2.0

Premature Births Linked to Living Near Power Plants

Closing coal- and oil-fired power plants may help decrease the incidence of premature births in surrounding areas, according to new research.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Lake Oahe, the source of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's drinking water. DVS / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Stopping a Dakota Access Pipeline Leak in Under 10 Minutes? A Fairy Tale, Say the Standing Rock Sioux

By Susan Cosier

Nine minutes. That's the longest it would take to detect a leak and shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) should the crude oil within begin escaping into the North Dakota prairie or the Missouri River. At least that's what Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the pipeline's owner, says. It's a claim that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe calls completely unrealistic given the company's "inadequate" emergency response plan.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced construction of Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline replacement project in Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, Aug. 10, 2016. Marc Chalifoux / Epic Photography for the Government of Alberta, CC BY-ND 2.0

How Enbridge Helped Write Minnesota Pipeline Laws, Aiding Its Line 3 Battle Today

By Logan Carroll

The Minnesota section of Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline accounts for nearly 300 miles of the longest crude oil transport system in the world, and it is failing. The multi-billion-dollar transnational corporation has applied for a permit to replace it. Opposition from tribes in the region and environmental groups is slowing the project, but the process at times appears so tilted in Enbridge's favor that, watching the court battles and utility commission meetings, it almost feels like Enbridge wrote the rules.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Human activity, including domesticating livestock, has had a major impact on earth's biomass. Malcolm Morley~commonswiki

Humans and Big Ag Livestock Now Account for 96 Percent of Mammal Biomass

A first-of-its-kind study published Monday shows that, when it comes to impacting life on Earth, humans are punching well above our weight.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first ever comprehensive census of the distribution of the biomass, or weight of living creatures, across classification type and environment. It found that, while humans account for 0.01 percent of the planet's biomass, our activity has reduced the biomass of wild marine and terrestrial mammals by six times and the biomass of plant matter by half.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!