It's an orca! Last killer whale is born at a SeaWorld park

Researchers are now able to study how a baby orca reacts around siblings because two of Takara's other calves are also housed at the San Antonio theme park. Backlash over the treatment of the animals and the conditions at the park led the company to scrap its orca breeding program at its 12 parks a year ago when they announced that the orcas at the park would be the "last generation".

A killer whale calf was born Wednesday at SeaWorld San Antonio in Texas, marking the last one birthed in captivity at the company's marine parks.

The company said it welcomed its newest aqua-animal when Takara, the 25-year-old matriarch of the SeaWorld San Antonio killer whale pod, gave birth to the calf Wednesday afternoon.

This will be the last time SeaWorld guests see a baby killer whale up close as it grows and matures.

Last year, SeaWorld said "society is changing" and the company is "changing with it" as it announced plans to stop breeding orcas.

The calf was born after an 18-month gestation and is estimated to weigh between 300 and 350 pounds (136 and 159 kg) and measure between 6 and 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 meters), SeaWorld said.

The baby orca has not received a name because SeaWorld veterinarians can not yet determine if the killer whale is a male or a female.

She said: "Throughout her life, Takara the orca has been artificially inseminated many times, separated from her mother and two of her children, and shuffled from theme park to theme park at SeaWorld's whim". That film profiled one of its whales, Tilikum, who has been involved in the deaths of three people, including SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.

"Mom generally will rest but she can't rest too much. mom's not holding onto the calf, but it's riding in her slipstream, and that's how it gets around", Dold said.

Spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson Beasley said birth control and "social management" would prevent future orca breeding. SeaWorld will continue to care for the orcas and research them, minus the shows. The moment the calf is born, Takara is 100% focused on the care and well-being of that baby.

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  • Leroy Wright