Last SeaWorld killer whale born in captivity in Texas

SeaWorld announced that its last baby orca was born at its San Antonio park on Wednesday, marking an end to its breeding program.

Last killer whale born at.

The calf will be the last orca to live in SeaWorld's care. Once the mom seems comfortable, SeaWorld vets will meet the calf for a closer checkup, where they will be able to determine the baby's sex.

The new calf was born to 25-year-old Takara, who was pregnant when SeaWorld announced that they planned to end killer whale breeding in 2016.

SeaWorld had to shift its entire operation after the 2013 documentary "Blackfish" shed light on the lives of orcas in captivity.

It told the story of Tilikum, a SeaWorld orca who killed trainer Dawn Brancheau, and was implicated in the deaths of two other people.

Since then, Tilikum has died from bacterial pneumonia, and SeaWorld continued to struggle to regain their former reputation. It brings SeaWorld's orca population in the U.S.to 23.

SeaWorld chose to stop breeding orcas, and phase out its world-famous killer whale performances by 2019, after public opinion turned against keeping orcas, dolphins and other animals in captivity for entertainment.

At 3:33 p.m. ET on Wednesday, SeaWorld welcomed its last orca born in captivity.

SeaWorld has been synonymous with "Shamu" and killer whales throughout its history; its shows featuring the animal among its most-popular.

Apart from marking the guests' last opportunity to observe the growth of SeaWorld's last orca calf's growth, this momentous birth also marks the last chance for researchers and marine biologists to study orcas in a controlled environment, something that can not be done in the wild. SeaWorld will continue to care for the orcas and research them, minus the shows. After weeks of preparation for the birth of the orca calf, Dold indicated he and his staff celebrated the successful arrival of the massive baby killer whale. One of SeaWorld's parks is in San Diego.

Spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson Beasley said birth control and "social management" would prevent future orca breeding.

  • Salvatore Jensen