It’s humbling to work with Takara, who is the matriarch and oldest member of the San Antonio pod.
She was born at SeaWorld San Diego and relocated to SeaWorld Orlando in 2004 as a 12-year-old adult, along with her first calf Kohana, to ensure social diversity within that pod. Five years later, in 2009, she was transferred to SeaWorld San Antonio, where she has resided ever since as the pod’s dominant female. While she held less dominant roles within the pods in San Diego and Orlando, she has flourished as the matriarch in Texas.
Takara is exceptionally intelligent and thrives on mental stimulation as much as physical stimulation. Her capacity and desire to learn challenging new activities during our daily interactions is truly impressive, and has resulted in her building a large repertoire of complex behaviors and sequences.
In addition to her love of learning and our daily interactions, Takara enjoys spending time with her two youngest offspring, Sakari and Kamea, with whom she can often be found swimming.
My deep bond with Takara developed during our coinciding pregnancies. Our daughters were born just 9 days apart and for me, as a new mom, watching Takara’s exceptional parenting abilities is fascinating. The level of attention and protection she gives the young whales is not only impeccable, but also provides the mental stimulation she seems to thrive on.
In addition to caring for her pod, Takara enjoys a number of enrichment activities. She’s always up for sharing kelp or getting a good back rub. She especially enjoys figuring out puzzle toys with her daughters.
At 17 feet and 4,700 pounds, Takara has striking characteristics that make her easy to identify. A birthmark on her lower rostrum, in the area just below her mouth, is affectionately referred to by trainers as her “coffee stain.” Perhaps harder to notice, but also a distinguishing factor, are her very small, calming eyes.
Takara has given birth to four calves, and was the second orca in the world to successfully deliver a calf through artificial insemination. Kohana, her first calf, currently resides at Loro Parque in Spain. Trua, her second calf, resides at SeaWorld Orlando.
-Katie, Supervisor of Animal Training
- Born: July of 1991
- Weighs 4,700 pounds
- Measures 17 feet
- Distinguishing Physical Characteristics: she has a distinctive brown birthmark on her lower rostrum
- Research involved in: hearing, pre and postnatal studies, circadian and cortisol studies
Katie, Supervisor of Animal Training
I began working as a husbandry assistant at SeaWorld in 1998, and I started my career in Animal Training in 2000.