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What To Expect, When You're Expecting a Baby Killer Whale

An orca at SeaWorld San Diego is pregnant with her first calf.

Kalia the whale. Credit: Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego
Kalia the whale. Credit: Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego

A killer whale born at SeaWorld San Diego in December 2004 is pregnant with her first calf, the theme park announced today.

Kalia is due in December, SeaWorld spokesman David Koontz told City News Service.

He said Kalia mated with the park's oldest male killer whale, Ulises, last summer and was also artificially inseminated with his sperm. The gestation period for a killer whale, also known as an orca, is nearly a year and a half.

Ulises is in his mid to late 30s, according to Koontz, who said female killer whales begin breeding at around seven to 10 years of age.

If all goes well, the offspring would be the second orca born at SeaWorld San Diego and the seventh overall. Makani was born to Kasatka two months ago.

Koontz said SeaWorld has a breeding program that enriches the lives of the animals by allowing them to experience, interact with and help raise another member of their pod while allowing the public to understand, appreciate and enjoy the whales.

The breeding program also enables research scientists to examine the population and social dynamics of killer whales more fully than is possible from studying them in the wild. Scientists have been able to document estrous cycling, conception, gestation, birth and development of killer whale calves, he said.

SeaWorld has pointed to scientific research in fending off attempts by animal rights advocates to end its "Shamu" killer whale shows. State legislation, inspired by the documentary "Blackfish," to prohibit killer whale shows was recently shelved.

—City News Service

Average American April 30, 2014 at 11:26 AM
Im glad that the PETA legislation was shelved, these whale shows have been a huge source of revenue for the area and the handlers know the dangers of working with the whales, its a dream come true to work with them. If you don't like the whale shows, don't go to Sea World.
Steve April 30, 2014 at 03:22 PM
I really despise when someone from a publicly traded company lies to the general public. SW's latest lies are despicable. Lots of people posting about this early pregnancy. I think it's really really early to breed Kalia at age 8; its like saying because a girl menstruates for the first or second time, it's ethically okay for that girl to have a child at age 13 or 14. Can you imagine saying, oh we always allow young 13 or 14 year woman to breed? SW's desperate to undo their tarnished image now that people can freely research issues with access to the internet. My understanding if it was a human, it'd be statutory rape. Maybe I'm wrong with what I'm perceiving here, but I doubt it. ----- Females reach sexual maturity between 6 and 10 years of age. Males reach sexual maturity between 10 and 13 years old. Female killer whales begin to mate between 14 and 15 years of age. The youngest female whale on record to give birth was 11 years old. Females have a calf every 6 to 10 years and they stop breeding around the age of 40. The result is 4 to 6 offspring over a 25 year span. (Estes, et al., 2006; Mann, et al., 2000; Robeck, et al., 2004; Watson, 1981)
Kevin Sherf April 30, 2014 at 06:11 PM
Cool! Another SLAVE BABY for the fine folks at Busch Entertainment Group, The scientific research performed by Busch Entertainment Group embiggens our understanding of sentient species imprisonment. I am sure little Shamu baby will never freak out and kill one of it's human overlords. Wild orca face many challenges, what kind of life is that? We need to round them all up so that the good folks at BEG can raise them for fun and profit. Killer whales need to be locked up in private for profit fishy prisons.
Bfizzzle May 03, 2014 at 08:00 AM
Someone should take the Seaworld admin from his family. Lock him in a tank. Make him do tricks for just enough food to stay alive. Never let him free. WATCH BLACKFISH... Seaworld should be shut down...
Jim Light May 04, 2014 at 07:22 PM
More SeaWorld marketing propaganda. There is nothing good in this for this juvenile orca. And SeaWorld's research is aimed at keeping their captives performing longer and replacing those that die young. Wild orcas do not give birth until their mid teens. This poor orca was impregnated at 8 years old. Another example of SeaWorld cruelty. Unfortunately they must breed them early. SeaWorld orcas rarely make it beyond their teens. The average lifespan of wild orcas is low thirties for males and mid forties for females.

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