12/6/13. SeaWorld San Antonio announced the birth of a new baby orca with little fanfare today, (‘Baby Shamu’ killer whale born at SeaWorld San Antonio).
SeaWorld continues with its policy of naming all orcas individually but giving them all the stage name Shamu, a made up name created by mashing the words ‘she’ and ‘Namu’ together. Namu was the name of the second killer whale ever taken into captivity, he was a Northern Resident orca adventitiously found inside a salmon net in British Columbia waters near the community for which he was named. A female was caught from the Southern Resident orca clan to keep him company, and she was called she-Namu, or Shamu.
While the Northern and Southern clans get along peaceably enough they aren’t known to intermingle in the wild.
Blackfish is the colloquial name given to orcas by the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest, a people who understood and respected the nature of killer whales. It is also the name chosen for a documentary that exposes incidents of aggression by whales in captivity, and the original Shamu was one of those whales.
She was removed from shows after she bit and dragged a secretary who was riding her for a publicity stunt in 1971.
In a lawsuit following this incident, it was revealed that SeaWorld was well aware of the danger they put the secretary in, and did not fully disclose the danger to her.
In April 1971 Gail MacLaughlin, Sea World’s public relations director, and Kent Burgess [the director of Sea World’s animal training department] asked plaintiff if she would like to ride Shamu, the killer whale, in a bikini for some publicity pictures for Sea World. Although the ride was not made a condition of her keeping her job, plaintiff eagerly agreed, thinking it would be exciting.
Although warned in general terms that the ride involved dangers and aware that she might fall off, plaintiff was confident of her swimming ability and anxious to do it. She had never heard of whales pushing riders around.
Burgess had been responsible for training Shamu ever since Sea World first acquired the animal. He knew Shamu was conditioned to being ridden only by persons wearing wetsuits, and that Shamu had in the past attacked persons who attempted to ride her in an ordinary bathing suit: first a Catalina swimsuit model and then Jim Richards, one of the trainers at Sea World. In addition, Burgess had read training records which showed Shamu had been behaving erratically since early March 1971. This information he did not disclose to plaintiff.
Plaintiff was trained for the ride by Sea World trainers in the tank at Sea World during normal office working hours. First she practiced riding Kilroy, a smaller, more docile whale, while wearing a bathing suit. During her one practice session on Shamu, she wore a wetsuit, fell off, but swam to the edge of the tank without incident.
On April 19 plaintiff became apprehensive for the first time when one of Sea World’s trainers said he was not going to watch her ride Shamu because it was “really dangerous.” Plaintiff then went to Burgess and told him of her concern. He told her not to worry, said there was nothing to be concerned about, and that the ride was “as safe as it could be.”
He still did not tell her about the problems they had been having with Shamu or about the earlier incidents involving Richards and the swimsuit model. Thus reassured, plaintiff, wearing a bikini Sea World had paid for, then took three rides on Shamu. During the second ride one of the trainers noticed Shamu’s tail was fluttering, a sign the animal was upset. During the third ride plaintiff fell off when Shamu refused to obey a signal. Shamu then bit her on her legs and hips and held her in the tank until she could be rescued.
Plaintiff suffered 18 to 20 wounds which required from 100 to 200 stitches and left permanent scars. She was hospitalized five days and out of work several weeks. She also suffered some psychological disturbance.
The new baby Blackfish was born to an experienced mom, Takara:
Takara, a 22-year-old killer whale, gave birth to a calf Friday at 12:08 a.m. The yet-to-be-named calf is the 29th killer whale born in SeaWorld’s history, and it joins five other killer whales that reside at the San Antonio park.
Takara gave birth to a female calf – estimated to measure 7 feet long – in Shamu Theater’s main pool after being in labor for slightly more than one hour. Immediately after birth, the baby whale instinctively swam to the surface of the water for its first breath of air. SeaWorld veterinarians and animal care specialists, who have devoted the last several weeks to 24-hour watch of the expectant mother, were on hand to witness the birth.
“We’re delighted to welcome the newest Baby Shamu to our killer whale family,” said Chris Bellows, SeaWorld San Antonio vice president of zoological operations. “Successful births like this are further evidence that SeaWorld parks have created healthy, enriching habitats for these animals. Millions of guests visit our parks each year and gain a greater appreciation for killer whales and other species in our care.
No other organization on the planet connects people with wildlife better than SeaWorld.”
There is no logic in their statement that the births are related to ‘enriching’ habitats, SeaWorld is good at using artificial insemination to get whales pregnant, they just are no good at keeping them alive, happy, and healthy. And the way their orcas connect with people is unnatural…and dangerous.
See on blog.seattlepi.com