Featured Image Credit: Seaworld
It isn’t much of a secret: Takara, an orca at SeaWorld, is pregnant. And has been for a while. And now, the trainers and the park and fans everywhere are getting excited for the calf’s arrival!
Takara is the matriarch as well as the oldest member of the San Antonio pod. SeaWorld has said that she’s pretty amazing at being a mom, having had plenty of experience after giving birth to four other calves in her 25 years.
The gestation period for an orca is a little bit longer than a human’s— taking between 17 and 18 months. Takara was actually pregnant before SeaWorld’s decision in March of last year to announce the end of their orca breeding program.
This means that the calf will be the final orca born at SeaWorld, and the last opportunity “for guests to see a baby killer whale up close and watch one grow and mature.”
This isn’t just the final chance for guests to be up-close with a baby killer whale, but it’s also the last chance in the name of conservation. The research done alongside whales like Takara who live at SeaWorld’s facilities is extremely helpful for understanding those in the wild, as well.
Now, scientists and conservationists are being given their last opportunity to advance their knowledge of orca calves and their development; something that can’t be done so easily in the wild.
Research done with the help of any of SeaWorld’s orcas will hopefully be used to help and conserve the species as a whole, including the “endangered Southern Resident killer whale population off the coast of Washington, where they are threatened by pollution, overfishing, and human development.”
SeaWorld, with help from a research team from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, plan to monitor the matriarch and her new calf, as well as their other orcas, soon after the birth to “better understand the social impact of calves and their social development on the killer whale group.”
Watch the exciting announcement video below!