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article imageSeaWorld San Diego confirms orca pregnancy

By Elizabeth Batt     Apr 29, 2014 in Environment
San Diego - SeaWorld has confirmed that a young female killer whale is pregnant. Talking to CBS 8 News, SeaWorld said nine-year-old Kalia is due to give birth in December.
Digital Journal first received confirmation of Kalia's pregnancy from inside sources on Apr. 24, but this is the first official confirmation from the giant marine park.
News of the potential pregnancy originally hit social media on April 20th, following the release of a YouTube video showing Kalia undergoing an ultrasound.
Condemnation was swift, with critics blasting the marine park for breeding the killer whale years before she may have bred in the wild. Former SeaWorld trainer Dr. Jeffrey Ventre, said that studies suggests that the first birth for some wild populations, "is typically between 14 and 15 years."
SeaWorld noted that nine-year-old Kalia got pregnant in June of last year, and said that she was well within "normal range" for breeding.
'The park's veterinarian Dr. Todd Roebeck, told CBS 8 News that Kalia had bred with male orca Ulises, but had also been artificially inseminated with his sperm.
To date, Ulises is not known to have fathered a calf naturally, despite observed breeding with female whales. John Hargrove, a former killer whale trainer at SeaWorld, told DJ that he had conducted artificial insemination procedures before. "We always believed Ulises' sperm count was too low," he said. "We saw him breed with Kasatka, but he never produced a calf."
A few weeks ago, SeaWorld was in Sacramento arguing against a proposed new bill called The Orca Welfare and Safety Act or AB-2140. The bill, proposed by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, and sponsored by the Animal Welfare Institute, could prevent the use of killer whales in entertainment shows as well as ban the import, export and breeding of orcas within California.
The bill, currently recommended for interim study, would directly impact operations at SeaWorld's San Diego park. Hargrove, who testified at the hearing before the California State Assembly, told DJ that SeaWorld places, "too much emphasis on getting more whales." Ventre meanwhile, called the, "artificial insemination of Kalia, at eight years old," both, "unethical and outrageous."
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