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News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: www.reuters.com

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The last orca to be born at a SeaWorld park, which popularized killer whale shows in the 1960s but faced growing opposition in recent years, has been born in Texas at SeaWorld San Antonio.


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

SeaWorld San Antonio welcomed their last orca calf on April 19. As SeaWorld has announced the end of their orca breeding program in 2016, the birth of the calf brings the last opportunity for guests of SeaWorld to see a baby orca up-close, and to observe its growth. SeaWorld's latest addition to their family of over two dozen orcas was born to 25-year-old Takara, who was born at SeaWorld herself, and has birthed four calves at SeaWorld before. Both mother and calf are being closely monitored by animal care specialists and veterinarians at SeaWorld. SeaWorld's announcement about the birth of Takara's calf is bittersweet as the birth also marks the beginning of the end of the last generation of orcas to be bred and born in captivity at the park. Takara is said to be completely immersed in taking care of her calf, and experts at SeaWorld are on stand-by for when she is ready to introduce her calf to them. It is only then that they will be able to tell the gender of the calf as it begins to nurse and learn about its environment. The birth of Takara's calf was made possible despite SeaWorld's decision to stop orca breeding in captivity, as she was already pregnant through natural breeding when the announcement was made in March 2016. "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," said Dr. Hendrik Nollens, Vice President of Veterinary Services for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, in the announcement. SeaWorld had a rough couple of years before this birth, as they have struggled with negative publicity since the documentary "Blackfish," which depicted the story of the life of orcas in captivity, and showcased the story of the death of one of SeaWorld's orca trainers by one of their orcas, Tilikum, in 2010. Since then, Tilikum has died from bacterial pneumonia, and SeaWorld continued to struggle to regain their former reputation. Apart from marking the guests' last opportunity to observe the growth of SeaWorld's last orca calf's growth, this momentous birth also marks the last chance for researchers and marine biologists to study orcas in a controlled environment, something that cannot be done in the wild. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


Hill H.M.,St. Mary's University | Campbell C.,Texas A&M University | Dalton L.,SeaWorld San Antonio | Osborn S.,SeaWorld San Antonio
Zoo Biology | Year: 2013

The current study provides additional information for the behavioral development and maternal care of belugas or white whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in the care of humans. The behaviors and mother-calf interactions of two female beluga calves were recorded from birth to 12 months as part of a longitudinal study of beluga behavioral development. As expected, the primary calf activity for both calves involved swimming with their mothers. The calves initiated the majority of the separations from and reunions with their mothers and exhibited early bouts of independence. Both mothers bonded with their calves and displayed similar maternal care behaviors but exhibited different behavioral patterns. Despite differences in social groupings, housing, and physical health, the two female belugas followed the behavioral development of beluga calves observed previously. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


PubMed | University of Rhode Island, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center, Georgia Aquarium, SeaWorld San Antonio and Shedd Aquarium
Type: | Journal: General and comparative endocrinology | Year: 2016

Steroid hormone analysis in blow (respiratory vapor) may provide a minimally invasive way to assess the reproductive status of wild cetaceans. Biological validation of the method is needed to allow for the interpretation of hormone measurements in blow samples. Utilizing samples collected from trained belugas (Delphinapterus leucas, n = 20), enzyme immunoassays for testosterone and progesterone were validated for use with beluga blow samples. Testosterone concentrations in 40 matched blood and blow samples collected from 4 male belugas demonstrated a positive correlation (R


PubMed | St. Mary's University and SeaWorld San Antonio
Type: | Journal: Zoo biology | Year: 2016

Dolphin calves spend most of their time swimming with their mother immediately after birth. As they mature, the calves become increasingly independent, and begin to interact more often with other calves, juveniles, and sub-adults. For bottlenose dolphin calves, sociality is related to maternal behaviors. Unfortunately, much less is known about the development of sociality and emergence of independence for killer whale calves. The purpose of this study was to examine the developmental changes in social behaviors and solitary activities of a killer whale calf across a 36-month period. Focal follow video recordings of a mother-calf pair housed at SeaWorld San Antonio were collected 2-6 times a day for 5-15min at 6-month intervals. Using a sample of randomly selected video recordings at each month, developmental changes in swims and social interactions with her mother, swims and social interactions with non-maternal partners, and solitary activities (e.g., solitary swims, solitary play) were observed across the months. The calf spent most of her time swimming with the mother across the 36-month period. The time the calf socialized with her mother was greater than the time she socialized with others at each month. Besides her mother, the calf socialized more often with the other adult female compared to adult males. As the calf matured, the increase in the time she spent socializing with adult killer whales other than the mother corresponded with an increase in the rate and time spent in solitary play. The developmental trends of sociality and emerging independence replicate research conducted with calves of other dolphin species. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2016. 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Robeck T.R.,SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Corporation | Steinman K.J.,SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Corporation | Montano G.A.,SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Corporation | Montano G.A.,Texas A&M University | And 8 more authors.
Theriogenology | Year: 2010

Artificial insemination (AI) with liquid-stored spermatozoa and sperm cryopreservation using directional freezing (DF) have been successful in the beluga. This study built on this foundation to develop a deep intra-uterine AI technique with frozen-thawed semen in beluga. Forty-two ejaculates from one male were cryopreserved using DF technology and subsequently used for 10 insemination attempts with seven females. Percentage pre- and post-thaw progressive motility and viability were (mean ± SD) 73.0 ± 12.2, 38.4 ± 8.8, 88.0 ± 0.1, and 59.3 ± 15.7%, respectively. A series of GnRH injections (3 x 250 μg, IV, 1.5 to 2 h apart) were used to induce ovulation, once a growing follicle >2.5 cm in diameter was visualized via trans-abdominal ultrasonography. Artificial insemination was performed at 30.1 ± 3.8 h post-initial GnRH injection with semen deposited in the uterine horn, 92.6 ± 16.2 cm beyond the genital opening using a flexible endoscope. The external cervical os (cEOS) was located beyond a series of 5 to 10 vaginal rings, 44.8 ± 9.3 cm from the external genital opening. The internal bifurcation of the uterus was 27 ± 6.8 cm beyond the cEOS. Ovulation occurred at 8.5 ± 7.6 h post-AI. Two of 10 inseminations (20%) resulted in pregnancy. The first pregnancy resulted in twins; both calves were born 442 d after AI, with one surviving. The second pregnancy is ongoing. These findings represent the first successful application of AI using frozen-thawed semen in beluga, and are important examples of how assisted reproductive technologies can provide tools for the global management of threatened species. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.


Robeck T.R.,SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center | Montano G.A.,SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center | Steinman K.J.,SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center | Smolensky P.,Dolphin Adventure | And 3 more authors.
Animal Reproduction Science | Year: 2013

Since its development in bottlenose dolphins, widespread application of AI with sex-selected, frozen-thawed (FT) spermatozoa has been limited by the significant expense of the sorting process. Reducing the total number of progressively motile sperm (PMS) required for an AI would reduce the sorting cost. As such, this research compared the efficacy of small-dose deep uterine AI with sexed FT spermatozoa (SEXED-SMALL; ~50×106PMS, n=20), to a moderate dose deposited mid-horn (SEXED-STD, ~200×106PMS; n=20), and a large dose of FT non-sexed spermatozoa deposited in the uterine body (NONSEXED-LARGE, 660×106PMS, n=9). Ten of the 11 calves resulting from use of sexed spermatozoa were of the predetermined sex. Similar rates of conception (NONSEXED-LARGE: 78%, SEXED-STD: 60%, SEXED-SMALL: 57%) and total pregnancy loss (TPL: NONSEXED-LARGE: 28.6%; SEXED-STD: 41.0%; SEXED-SMALL: 63.6%) were observed across groups, but early pregnancy loss (EPL,


Osborn S.,SeaWorld San Antonio | Dalton L.,SeaWorld San Antonio | Dold C.,SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment | Robeck T.,SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment | Robeck T.,SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2012

A 22-yr-old multiparous beluga, Delphinapterus leucas, with consistently elevated serum progesterone concentrations postartificial insemination was diagnosed with viable twins at 149 days postconception. Twins were of similar size at least until day 264, the last point when ultrasound measurements of both twins were made. However, ultrasound was used to determine the viability of both fetuses on days 365, 393, and 400. After 90% of normal gestation, or 434 days, steroids were administered to encourage fetal lung maturation. Seven days later a 40.9-kg live female calf was delivered headfirst. A second 22.7-kg stillborn calf was delivered in fluke-first presentation 8 hr later. Immediately after birth, the live calf was administered surfactant intratracheally. The next day, it was given beluga immunoglobulin intramuscularly, and started on oral antibiotics and provided nutritional support via an oral gastric tube. The calf started nursing voluntarily on day 3. Antibiotic and nutritional support was discontinued on day 10. Bimonthly weight and length measurements demonstrated that after an initial increased growth rate, the calf has grown within normal parameters after birth. This calf represents the first known successful surviving twin of any cetacean species and sets an important precedent for treatment modalities that may be available to assist the premature cetacean neonate. Copyright © 2012 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.


PubMed | SeaWorld San Antonio
Type: Case Reports | Journal: Journal of zoo and wildlife medicine : official publication of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians | Year: 2012

A 22-yr-old multiparous beluga, Delphinapterus leucas, with consistently elevated serum progesterone concentrations post-artificial insemination was diagnosed with viable twins at 149 days postconception. Twins were of similar size at least until day 264, the last point when ultrasound measurements of both twins were made. However, ultrasound was used to determine the viability of both fetuses on days 365, 393, and 400. After 90% of normal gestation, or 434 days, steroids were administered to encourage fetal lung maturation. Seven days later a 40.9-kg live female calf was delivered headfirst. A second 22.7-kg stillborn calf was delivered in fluke-first presentation 8 hr later. Immediately after birth, the live calf was administered surfactant intratracheally. The next day, it was given beluga immunoglobulin intramuscularly, and started on oral antibiotics and provided nutritional support via an oral gastric tube. The calf started nursing voluntarily on day 3. Antibiotic and nutritional support was discontinued on day 10. Bimonthly weight and length measurements demonstrated that after an initial increased growth rate, the calf has grown within normal parameters after birth. This calf represents the first known successful surviving twin of any cetacean species and sets an important precedent for treatment modalities that may be available to assist the premature cetacean neonate.


SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Images can be downloaded here: The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TMMSN) and SeaWorld San Antonio announced today a significant expansion of their partnership in helping to rescue and assist marine mammals along the Texas Coast.  Over...

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