Kalia, like many others in her family, has a history of aggression behind her – especially towards a young male named Ulises, whose sperm was used to artificially inseminate her. It would seem unwise, then, to use her for breeding. But when SeaWorld already has a habit of using troubled orcas such as Tilikum to provide them with a steady supply of new babies, they probably figure that one more won’t make a difference, right?
Jared Goodman, PETA’s director of animal law, says that Kalia “is far younger than an orca who would give birth in nature. Yet SeaWorld, in its infinite greed, has bred another marine animal 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.”
However, this is definitely not the first time SeaWorld has engaged in this type of “infinite greed.” Let’s take a look at some of the other female orcas of SeaWorld who were impregnated before their time:
Known as SeaWorld’s “matriarch” and “most successful mother,” wild-caught Katina first became pregnant at SeaWorld San Diego in 1985 when she was believed to be somewhere between six and nine years of age. She went on to raise seven calves, and suffered the heartache of having most of them taken away from her – apart from son Taku, who later mated with her. The resultant calf, Nalani, is believed to be in good health, despite her inbred status.
Takara gave birth to her first calf Kohana in 2002, at the age of eleven. Her two other calves are named Trua and Sakari.
A daughter of SeaWorld’s “matriarch” Katina, Kalina gave birth to her first son, Keet, when she was only seven years of age, and birthed again just eighteen months later. All of her calves were taken from her at a young age.
Kohana was only eight years old when she had her first calf, Adan, and ten years old when she gave birth to her second calf Victoria, who died before reaching her first birthday. This short interval in between births rarely occurs in the wild, where female orcas generally require a seventeen-month gestation period, followed by a three-year period of nursing.
Dr. Ingrid Visser, founder of the Orca Research Trust (whose scientific paper on dorsal fin abnormalities was twisted to suit SeaWorld’s profiteering agenda not too long ago) says: “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 (their) females so young and so soon after giving birth to a previous calf.”
Needless to say, the entertainment corporation has engaged in further paper-twisting to justify Kalia’s pregnancy. Although most wild whale researchers agree that 14.9 years appears to be the optimum age for a female orca to give birth, SeaWorld spokesperson Fred Jacobs claims that studies published in the Marine Mammal Science journal and on the Cetacean Cousins whale research site have documented occasional cases of wild orcas giving birth at eleven years of age. Therefore, inseminating Kalia and other females at an even younger age is perfectly fine, in his book.
Image Source: MarinoCarlos/Flickr