Shouka was born on February 25, 1993 in Antibes, France …
And she has one of the most unique personalities of any animal I have ever worked with. Although she is very smart and loves to learn new behaviors, her favorite interactions seem to be playing with her trainers. As trainers of these amazing animals one of the most important things we do with them is build strong relationships. In the 14 years I have worked at SeaWorld, few animals have shown me the importance of that relationship more than Shouka. She has very tight bonds with the trainers she has known for a long time, and with the trainers who spend a lot of time interacting with her. So many things make Shouka special but one of our favorite characteristics is her wide range of vocalizations. Before she moved to SeaWorld San Diego she lived with bottlenose dolphins and she learned to mimic some of the dolphin vocalizations.
When she joined the San Diego killer whale (also known as Orcinus orca or “orca”) pod, she taught some of the other whales those same calls. Killer whale social structures are constantly changing, but Shouka is consistently compatible with all of our whales. This speaks to how versatile her personality is. She interacts with each whale differently, showing us how complex their bonds are.
Along with the fun of playing with trainers and the mental stimulation of learning new behaviors, one of Shouka’s other favorite interactions is performing in shows. She is by far our highest jumper. Night shows seem to be her favorite time to impress our guests, and even us!
Shouka makes me smile and laugh every day with the little things she does to let us know she is having fun. My all-time favorite sound she makes is a low “leaking” or “clicking” sound she makes out of her blow hole when you are doing something she really likes. When you start walking toward the freezer, where we keep the ice she loves to eat, she usually starts making this sound, and it gets louder as you’re about to give it to her. These simple interactions are a big part of why Shouka is one of my favorite orca.
-Karly, Senior Animal Trainer
- Born: February of 1993
- Weighs 5,000 pounds
- Measures 17 feet long
- Research involved in: audiogram (hearing) study, photographic assessment of body shape changes study, breath sampling (CO/CO2) study
Karly, Senior Animal Trainer
In 2005 I became an animal trainer at SeaWorld San Antonio, and I moved to SeaWorld San Diego in 2014 where I continued my passion of working with killer whales.