Seaworld's Superb "Inbreeding" Program, Lack of Genetic Diversity Among Captive Orca
With orca numbers dwindling across marine parks, lack of genetic diversity is taking a toll. Already we are seeing inbreeding taking place within parks across the nation. The root behind all of the inbreeding is, of course, Seaworld.
On September 18, 2006 the first inbred orca was born at Seaworld Florida. This calf, named Nalani, was sired by Taku, who is also her brother, their mother is Katina, who is also Nalani’s grandmother. Nalani was raised by her mother/grandmother and seem’s to have suffered no ill effects from the inbreeding other than forever having “tainted” bloodlines. Nalani will be seven years old this year.
However, the United States isn’t the only country getting away with inbreeding their orca. In Spain, inbred orca seem to be a new goal for one park.
Below: Nalani, world’s first captive inbred orca
“In February 2006, Loro Parque,located on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife, Spain, received four young orca: two males, Keto (born in 1995) and Tekoa (born in 2000), and two females, Kohana (2002) and Skyla (2004) on loan from Seaworld. SeaWorld still maintains ownership of these animals, and is therefore responsible for them.” -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loro_Parque
The above quote states that four orca were sent to Spain on loan to Loro Parque. These orca have been used to create even more inbred orca, since Seaworld Florida’s success with Nalani.
In 2010, eight year old Kohana rejected her first calf, forcing park officials at Loro Parque to hand raise the baby. Kohana showed no interest in the calf, later named Adan, at all. But, Kohana had every right to be wary of her calf, and this is why: Kohana’s mother is Takara, the half-sister of Keto; and Keto’s sire is Kotar, who is also Kohana’s grandfather. Therefore, following family ties, Kohana was bred to her own uncle. Perhaps this highly intelligent female orca knew something was amiss with her calf? Then by rejecting him she would “fix” what was wrong in the gene pool? Only Kohana knows the answer.
Below: Adan being “handled” by park trainers
The breeding of the four orca on loan from Seaworld is authorized by the corporation. In short, this mean’s Seaworld agrees to knowingly breed orca of the same relation in order to “boost their numbers”. SeaWorld’s gene pool has been drastically diluted by inbreeding, but to thrive in the captive cetacean industry, they need orca.
On August 3, 2012 Adan acquired a sister. Kohana gave birth, after a one hour labor, to a calf named Victoria, “Vicky”. Unfortunately Vicky would suffer the same rejection by her mother and have to be raised by park trainers and officials. Vicky, is also the daughter of Keto, making her and Adan full sibling’s; both inbred and both authorized to be produced by Seaworld. Vicky has Kotar as a grandfather on Keto’s side, and also as a great-grandfather on Kohana’s side, (through Takara).
Shockingly, when all orca lines are tied together, Vicky is blood-related to 21 of 26 SeaWorld whales, the only male orca that Vicky is not related to, is Ulysses Ulysses was considered unable to produce offspring although he did sire one calf born in 2011 after artificial insemination.
Now, at roughly 5 months old, she spends most her days in the small medical pool with her brother Adan; both are rejected by all orca at the park and are rarely housed with any of them for their own protection.
Below: Vicky has obvious physical signs from her inbred bloodlines, almost classified as deformalities.
The Center for Whale Research, says female orca in the wild, “give birth every three years starting at age 13.” Also, according to National Marine Mammal Laboratory, “whales usually give birth every 3 to 10 years.”
Recently it has been reported that Kohana is being kept with Keto more often, making it only a matter of time before she becomes pregnant and yet another inbred orca is born. Kohana is ten years old and has given birth twice in the span of two years, earlier and more frequently than she would in the wild; Something that would never happen between family members among wild orca.
In the wild, orca do not breed within their small “sub-pods” made up of closely related individuals. It is only when pods of the same genetic make-up, such as fish eating or seal eating orca, meet up and create what is known as a “super-pod” does breeding take place. Therefore, members of the same family never breed with one another and new blood is always inserted into the wild orca gene pool.
Below: Southern Resident Orca calf, J49 (born August 6, 2012), swimming with his mother, J37, and pod. Photo by: John Boyd
However, Seaworld seem’s to have found way’s to try and save their captive orca gene’s from being further corrupted by their inbreeding.
One way for Seaworld and Loro Parque to add new gene’s to their captive bloodlines is by breeding Loro Parque’s newest obtained orca, Morgan. Morgan is roughly five years old and was “rescued” from the wild after being “abandoned” by her family and left alone. She was recently deemed unsuitable for release back into the wild by a court due to Loro Parque’s discovery that she is deaf. No one know’s for sure if she is in fact deaf, and many believe it is a lie in order for them to keep her captive. Morgan is bullied by the other orca at Loro Parque and suffer's hideous rake marks and stress. Another interesting fact is that Loro Parque was told Morgan was not to be trained for shows or used for breeding, and yet photo’s show her being trained, used in shows and being kept in the same pool with Keto.
Below: Morgan being bullied by other orca at Loro Parque. Trainer’s seem oblivious to the tension between the several orca.
In Argentina, there is a male orca by the name of Kshamenk who lives alone at Mundo Marino, a marine park. His living conditions are unlike any other captive orca, and his health is deteriorating. Instead of Seaworld stepping in to help Kshamenk, and save him, they made a deal with Mundo Marino. It has been learned and reported by Tim Zimmerman that captive Seaworld orca Kasatka is due to give birth sometime next month, and the father is Kshamenk. Seaworld obtained semen from Kshamenk by most likely paying Mundo Marino a pretty penny, therefore “helping” Seaworld’s gene pool expand some.
Below: Kshamenk in his tiny pool at Mundo Marino
The breeding of cetacean’s must be outlawed within the United States, it has to stop. The only way to better the lives of these animal’s is to stop breeding them for profit and allow them to comfortably live out the rest of their shortened lives in as much peace as possible. End the breeding, end the captivity. End the slavery.
*Please note: I own no right’s to any photo’s used in this article and gain no profit of any kind by using the photo’s, therefore I hereby claim the rights given to me by the “Fair Use Act”. All credit for photo’s used goes to original photographer’s.