SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — A pregnant killer whale at SeaWorld San Antonio has just given birth, and as the park welcomes its new addition, it says goodbye to its widely-criticized captive breeding program.
On April 19, SeaWorld announced the matriarch of its orca pod, Takara, 25, welcomed her fifth calf into the world following roughly 90 minutes of labor.
In March 2016, in response to a heavy backlash following the 2013 documentary Blackfish, the company announced it would phase out its killer whale shows at all U.S. marine parks by 2019. In addition, SeaWorld said it would immediately halt its captive breeding program.
Takara, herself born into a life of captivity at SeaWorld San Diego in 1991, was already pregnant at the time of the announcement.
“Although this will be the last opportunity for SeaWorld guests to see a baby killer whale up close as it grows and matures, SeaWorld will continue to care for the orcas at its parks for decades to come,” SeaWorld said in a statement.
Animal activist group PETA said that if SeaWorld truly wants to care for its whales, they should finally release them to seaside sanctuaries, giving the animals a chance to live as close to a natural life as they can at this point.