Killer whale, calf die during birth at SeaWorld

June 7th, 2010 by

ORLANDO — A 20 year old killer whale has died after giving birth to a stillborn calf at SeaWorld Orlando.

Officials said she was impregnated by Tilikum — the killer whale that drowned a trainer earlier this year.

The whale was identified as Taima, a 20-year-old orca.

“We are very saddened by this loss,” said Dr. Chris Dold, vice president of veterinary services for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.” Although we understand that complications with pregnancy can occur here, just as they do in the wild, the loss of any animal affects all of us at SeaWorld.”

Taima had successfully given birth to three calves previously. Dr. Dold says there have been 26 successful calf births at Sea World parks.

Preliminary indications suggest that her death was caused by a condition in which the placenta is delivered before the fetus, as well as an unusual position of the fetus in the birthing canal. She was not able to deliver the stillborn fetus naturally; SeaWorld’s veterinarians attempted to assist, but her complications were too severe.

A definitive cause of death will not be known until a necropsy is completed. The comprehensive medical process will be carried out by SeaWorld veterinarians and pathologists, and may take up to six weeks to complete.

SeaWorld Orlando’s collection, including Taimi, had eight orcas.

A second orca at SeaWorld Orlando is also pregnant.

The 32-year-old orca Katina is due to have her seventh calf in late October. Both Taima and Katina were impregnated by Tilikum, the six-ton orca that went on a rampage in February and drowned a trainer.

The birth was first reported on theme park blog around 5 p.m. Sunday.

The blog said guests were informed by a sign at the front of the park that Shamu Stadium would be closed due to a killer whale birth in progress.

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