March 7, 2017
We’ve got big news – Takara, the matriarch of the SeaWorld San Antonio orca pod, is currently pregnant. Due in just over a month, this will be the last killer whale to be born at SeaWorld.
Fun fact: Did you know that an orca’s gestation period is between 17 and 18 months? It takes a long time to grow a killer whale after all. Since this happened through natural breeding, the suspected sire – otherwise known as the dad – is Kyuquot (pronounced ky YOO kit). Takara, who is now 25 years old, was born at SeaWorld San Diego and was already pregnant when we made our announcement in March that this would be the last generation of orcas at SeaWorld.
While SeaWorld visitors will have the opportunity to see killer whales at SeaWorld for years to come, this will be the last opportunity for guests to see a baby killer whale up close and watch one grow and mature.
Takara loves to learn, participate in daily interactions and spend time with her daughters Sakari and Kamea. She also enjoys different enrichment activities and sharing these activities with her calves. If you happen to be at SeaWorld San Antonio and aren’t sure which one Takara is, you can identify her by her striking characteristics like a birthmark on her lower rostrum, in the area just below her mouth.
Takara and Kamea
Not only are we all excited for the arrival of the new orca calf, but this also means exciting conservation opportunities. While whales like Takara already participate in vital research to help scientists and conservationists better understand this species, the calf opens the doors additional groundbreaking research. The birth of Takara’s calf is the last chance for researchers to study orca development in ways that cannot be done in the wild, helping to conserve this amazing species.
Information learned from Takara and her calf will add to SeaWorld’s extensive database about killer whales and their calves, helping scientists studying the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population off the coast of Washington, where they are threatened by pollution, overfishing, and human development. Data and samples from the pair will contribute to studies focused on killer whale growth and metabolism: one looking at toxin transfer in milk when babies nurse from moms, and another evaluating changes in body shape to evaluate nutritional condition for free-ranging killer whales.
The calf, her mom, and other whales will also be monitored by a research team from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio to better understand the social impact of calves and their social development on the killer whale group.
SeaWorld has committed $50 million over the next five years to be the world's leading marine animal rescue organization, expanding our animal care centers and overall rescue work while supporting marine stranding networks in the United States and globally. Additionally, SeaWorld is investing $10 million to study and protect endangered killer whales in the wild, with a particular focus on the Southern Resident killer whale population found off the coast of Washington.
Takara has proven to be an excellent and experienced mother, having given birth to four other calves – Trua, 11, lives at SeaWorld Orlando, Kohana, 15, lives at Loro Parque, and Sakari, 7, and Kamea, 3, live at SeaWorld San Antonio.
We’ll keep you all updated on the important conservation work, but in the meantime, make sure you make your plans to visit Takara, and soon the calf, at SeaWorld San Antonio. Simply put, this will be the last chance to see a baby killer whale up-close as it grows and matures. https://seaworldparks.com/seaworld-sanantonio