It’s been incredible watching Katina interact with her offspring over the years. She is the matriarch of the SeaWorld Orlando pod, and we consider her the most successful killer whale mother in human care.
Our experts have estimated Katina to be 39 years old, making her the oldest orca in the Orlando pod. While she’s the oldest, I think she is the most athletic and energetic of all the whales at SeaWorld Orlando. She always puts a smile on my face during our daily interactions by sticking her tongue out when she seems excited. She also enjoys having her skin rubbed down, as she leans into my hands to create more pressure.
Weighing about 5,400 pounds and measuring 17 feet long, Katina is one of the largest female orcas at SeaWorld Orlando, second to Kayla who weighs 5,600 pounds and is 19 feet long. Here’s a hint to tell them apart: Katina is a bit more round than Kayla.
Katina has lived at SeaWorld for more than 35 years and has provided invaluable information for researchers on pregnancy, fetal development and birth that we know will help her counterparts in the wild. She is one of only five whales in our three SeaWorld parks that were originally born in the wild.
In 1985, Katina became world famous when she gave birth to the first killer whale calf to thrive under human care. She has had six successful pregnancies since and currently lives with two of her offspring, Nalani and Makaio.
Katina’s offspring Ikaika now lives at SeaWorld San Diego.
Unfortunately, both in the wild and in zoos, not every orca lives well into adulthood. Four of Katina’s offspring have passed away in her 35 years at our park. Kalina passed away in 2010 at age 25, Taku passed away in 2007 at age 14, Katerina passed away in 1999 at the age of 10 and Unna passed away in 2015 at the age of 19. They were all part of our beloved orca family, and their lives contributed valuable information to the understanding of this magnificent species.
Katina has certainly helped the world – from millions of guests to scientists and researchers – better understand and appreciate orcas, and it continues to be an honor to have the opportunity to trainer her. Guests can look for her in the One Ocean show at SeaWorld Orlando, most likely enjoying one of those rub-downs she likes so much!
-Joe, Supervisor of Animal Training
- Estimated to be 39 years old
- Weighs 5,400 pounds
- 17 feet long
- Distinguishing Physical Characteristics: two white, quarter-size circles on her chin
- Research involved in: Orca reproduction, calf physical and behavioral development, and a vocalizations and bubbling study by Dr. Anne Bowles
Joe, Supervisor of Animal Training
I began working in the animal training department 13 years ago. I have worked at Shamu, Sea Lion and Otter Stadiums, but I’ve spent the majority of my career working with orcas.