(SEAWORLD/KILLER WHALES) A viral video posted to YouTube on Sunday announced SeaWorld San Diego has artificially inseminated their nine-year old orca, Kalia.
The YouTube video, titled “Kalia’s Pregnancy: Ultrasound Footage,” shows trainers performing Kalia’s ultrasound, and is accompanied with the following description:
For those who don’t know: Kalia is pregnant and due probably in December of this year. The father is thought (edit: not confirmed!) to be Ulises by artificial insemination.
Watch the video in the clip below.
News of this pregnancy has animal activists outraged due to the fact that nine years is entirely too young for a female orca to be reproducing.
According to Killer-Whale.org:
Reproduction takes place late in life for Killer Whales. The females aren’t mature until they are approximately 15 years of age. For males it is between 15 and 21 years of age. Females can mate until they are about 40 years of age. They aren’t going to mate every year either; instead they have what is known as a Polyestrous cycle for the females. They have cycles of fertilization just like human females where they may or may not be able to conceive.
PETA has stood against SeaWorld and many of its practices for quite some time now. The activist group even went so far as becoming a shareholder in the amusement park’s stocks in order to vote at annual meetings.
PETA released the following statement about the recent news:
Kalia, the daughter of Kasatka, who infamously almost killed her trainer by dragging him to the bottom of a tank repeatedly, is far younger than an orca who would give birth in nature. Yet SeaWorld, in its infinite greed, has bred another marine mammal who will be condemned to a nonlife in a concrete tank, never permitted to engage in what is natural and pleasant and never given the opportunity to swim great distances in the open ocean, spend time with family, or express any other types of normal behavior.
Instead, to draw visitors to its amusement park, SeaWorld will put this baby through constant stress and the privations of captivity—the same dreadful fate as that of the eight orcas and 42 dolphins who died at SeaWorld San Diego alone between 1985 and 2010.
Breeding too early and artificially can cause serious problems for these captive orcas. Sadly, Kalia is not the first female orca to be reproductively abused by SeaWorld San Diego. SeaWorld has bred other orcas at much younger ages. For instance, their orca Katina was first artificially inseminated at the age of six.
SeaWorld not only forces orca breeding at too young of an age, but it also fails to take into account the amount of time these magnificent creatures need to fully recover from giving birth.
Ingrid Visser, founder and principal scientist at the Orcah Research Trust, tells The Dodo:
“A female killer whale requires a 17 month gestation period, followed by a 3 year nursing period in which it must remain with its calf. Thus, at a minimum, a female killer whale requires over four and a half years in order to effect a proper birth and nursing period. [It’s] abhorrent, yet sadly typical of SeaWorld parks and the industry that they would breed this female so young and so soon after giving birth to a previous calf.”
One would think after the backlash from last year’s documentary Blackfish, SeaWorld would learn to start respecting their captive animals. People around the world are finally seeing SeaWorld for what it is, which is also evidenced by the recent California bill to ban orcas in captivity.
If passed, AB2140 would ban the export, import, and breeding of killer whales and would also require SeaWorld San Diego to relocate their 10 captive orcas into larger sea pens. Despite being signed by 1.2 million people, the bill was stalled after lawmakers felt they did not have enough information to make a cohesive decision, and is now on hold until mid-2015.
Help put an end to keeping these intelligent, social creatures captive for entertainment.