SeaWorld has a new orca resident.
On Wednesday, Takara, the 25-year-old matriarch of the SeaWorld San Antonio’s orca pod, gave birth to a healthy baby.
A team of veterinarians and animal care specialists were on hand to witness the birth and step in if necessary. Now, the group is focused on monitoring Takara and her calf to ensure their smooth start continues.
“Nothing can prepare you for that moment when mom helps the calf get to the surface for its first breath. The moment the calf is born, Takara is 100% focused on the care and well-being of that baby. She knows exactly what to do. It is amazing,” Julie Sigman, an Assistant Curator at SeaWorld San Antonio who has been with Takara through three of her births, said in a statement for SeaWorld.
Takara is now focused on nursing and bonding with her calf. Once the mom seems comfortable, SeaWorld vets will meet the calf for a closer checkup, where they will be able to determine the baby’s sex.
This is Takara’s fifth baby born at the park and the last orca birth for all of SeaWorld. In March, SeaWorld announced plans to stop its captive breeding program at all three parks. Takara was already pregnant at the time of this announcement. With no more captive breeding, SeaWorld will only be able to obtain a new whale when a rescue orca cannot be rehabilitated and released.
“Although this is the last killer whale birth at a SeaWorld park, our work to understand and protect this species will continue for decades to come,” said Dr. Hendrik Nollens, Vice President of Veterinary Services for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “Takara and her calf are an important part of not only educating the visitors who see them at the parks, but also ongoing research that helps marine biologists understand how to better care for and protect orcas in the wild.”
Guests will be able to get a closer look at Takara and her new calf in the near future during select observation times.