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

Final killer whale to be born in SeaWorld park welcomed

"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", Nollens said in the park's statement.

The company's newest theme park will be built in Dubai and will not include orca whales.

"A team of veterinarians and killer whale trainers witnessed the historic birth and are continuing to monitor Takara and her new baby 24-hours a day to help ensure a successful start", said a SeaWorld statement.

More than a year after SeaWorld said it would stop breeding orcas in captivity, the theme park chain announced the birth of its final killer whale calf.

"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 this special care", Chris Bellows, vice president of zoological operations at the San Antonio park, said Wednesday.

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Following pressure from activists and declining ticket sales, SeaWorld announced the end of its orca shows and breeding programme past year. The mother, 25-year-old Takara, was already pregnant last year when SeaWorld stopped the breeding program. The gestation period for killer whales is between 17 and 18 months.

According to the San Antonio Express News, SeaWorld believes Kyuquot, one of two male orcas at the park, is the father, but officials will need to do a paternity test to know for sure.

SeaWorld says both appear healthy. It brings SeaWorld's orca population in the U.S.to 23. Both orcas were swimming calmly, including taking breaths at the water's surface, and trainers would be watching for the calf to begin nursing. Researchers say they will use the birth of the baby to study orca development in ways that can't be done in the wild.

"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.

Birth control and "social management" will prevent future orca pregnancies, said spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson Beasley. One of her calves has been loaned out to a park in Spain, and another one lives at the company's Florida theme park, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

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