SeaWorld Entertainment (SEAS) has welcomed what it has previously announced will be the last baby orca born in one of its parks.
Takara gave birth Wednesday afternoon at the park and a team of veterinarians and animal care specialists witnessed the historic birth, according to SeaWorld. They will continue to monitor Takara and her new baby 24-hours-a-day to help ensure a successful start.
The baby is the last killer whale to be born in captivity after SeaWorld announced last year it was ending its breeding program. Guests at SeaWorld San Antonio will have the opportunity to visit and observe Takara and her calf in the near future during select times.
“This is an exciting and emotional day for us at SeaWorld and we are all so proud to share this new killer whale calf with the world, after a year and a half of planning, and observing and providing all the special care,” said Chris Bellows, Vice President of Zoological Operations. “Takara is a great mom and immediately began bonding with and caring for her new baby. Every day she inspires SeaWorld’s guests to learn more about and do more to protect animals in the wild. She is a true ambassador.”
Takara, born at SeaWorld San Diego, has had four other calves, which now range in age from three to 15-years-old. Takara was already pregnant as a result of natural breeding when the announcement to end orca breeding was made in March 2016, according to a press release.
“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, Vice President of Veterinary Services for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “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.”
SeaWorld said the birth of Takara’s calf is the last chance for researchers to study orca development in ways that cannot be done in the wild, helping to benefit wild whales as well as those in SeaWorld’s care.