SeaWorld Orca Injury Sparks Outcry

Reportedly in altercation with another whale

Caty Enders

Photos of a badly injured orca whale at SeaWorld San Diego has sparked an outcry from animal rights activists, who claim that the injury is further evidence that the whales are being held in unsafe conditions. Nakai, an 11-year-old male was injured around September 20 during a private show, tearing off a “dinner plate-sized chunk of his lower mandible,” exposing muscle and bone. SeaWorld has maintained that the injury was the result of a collision with the side of a pool, but Dr. Ingrid N. Visser, founder of the Orca Research Trust, says that the photographs indicate an altercation with another orca. “Of note is that in [this photo], at the bottom right of the wound, near the trainers shoe in the photo, there are four puncture marks—and the spacing matches that for orca teeth—as you can see from Nakai’s teeth in this same photo.” The animal rights group PETA has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture saying that SeaWorld has failed to keep the whales separated as required under the Animal Welfare Act.

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