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Young orca dies at Loro Parque in Tenerife

By Elizabeth Batt     Jun 16, 2013 in Environment
Loro Parque, a marine mammal park in Tenerife has just announced the death of 10-month-old killer whale, Vicky. Her death is also a blow for her owner SeaWorld, who is listed in its SEC filings as owning all of the orcas held at the facility.
In a statement posted on the Loro Parque Facebook page just a short while ago, the park announced:
In contrast with joy with which Loro Parque announced the birth of the second baby orca in Spain, last August 3rd, today with enormous regret we inform you of the sad demise of Vicky, who with so much emotion and affection, the team of Orca Ocean cared for in her 10 months of life. Vicky stood out as a playful, agile and intelligent youngster, and an animal that won the hearts of the entire team of Orca Ocean and of the visitors that knew her during this time.
The reasons for this sudden death are still not known, but the veterinarians and experts are working on the necropsy to determine the causes. In recent days the Orca Ocean team, which everyday cares for the animals and monitors all their movements, had noticed changes in her behavior. For this reason, the leading experts in the field were consulted, including the chief veterinarian of Sea World who came especially from the United States to perform a check on Vicky.
It had been a rough 10 months for the little orca. Immediately after being born, she was rejected by her mother Kohana and had to be hand-raised. She was the second calf that Kohana had rejected, following the birth of Adan in 2010. Vicky's lineage, like Adan's, raised questions, and led to discussions about the park's breeding program.
Questionable lineage
Keto was the father of both of Kohana's calves. After Adan was rejected, concerned conservation groups lamented breeding Kohana again. When Vicky was born however, the little orca's lineage raised eyebrows over the level of inbreeding at the park.
With Kohana's dam -- Takara, being the half-sister of Keto, it made Keto's sire -- Kotar, also Kohana's grandfather. Following the family lines further, the inbreeding became even more complicated, because it meant that Kohana was bred to her own uncle, twice.
The young Vicky then, shared the same grandfather as her dam, but on Keto's side, and again as a great-grandfather on Kohana's side, (through Takara). In short, Vicky was blood-related to 21 out of 26 SeaWorld whales, as is Adan. Vicky's birth last August, can be seen in the video below:
The inbreeding issue conducted in captivity is one of the reasons that European cetacean advocates are planning to take their fight to the streets on June 28. The 'Demonstration Against Captivity of Cetaceans' will directly appeal to the EU to close all dolphinaria in Europe.
"Captivity severely compromises a whale or dolphin’s quality of life," said Yvon Godefried on his petition page, "in the wild, cetaceans have highly complex social lives which cannot be recreated in captivity."
Under SeaWorld's loan agreement with Loro Parque, killer whales born at Loro Parque remain the sole property of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.
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