Two female orca born into incredibly differing worlds.
It is impossible to make a direct comparison as Orkid is an unnatural hybrid, one that would never occur in the wild so she has no pod mates to hold up as an example, instead an Alaskan resident orca of the same age has been used to show the life events denied to captive orca Orkid.
AD-16 gives birth to a female calf, AD-20.
She is named Callisto.
September 23rd 1988
Kandu 5, a wild-caught Icelandic orca, gives birth to a female calf at SeaWorld San Diego.
The calf’s sire is Orky a Northern Resident captured in 1968, and recently moved to SeaWorld from the defunct Marineland of the Pacific.
The calf is hailed as the first successful birth at SeaWorld San Diego.
September 26th 1988
The calf’s sire, Orky dies. He was approximately 30 years old. The necropsy report gives his cause of death as “Acute Bronchopneumonia, Nephropathy”.
The calf is named in honour of her dead sire. She will be known as Orkid. (Orky’s kid.)
August 21st 1989
Icelandic orca Kandu 5 is involved in an incident that will cause her death. During an extremely aggressive altercation with captured Northern Resident Corky, she rams into her (although some reports claim she rammed the wall of their tank). This major collision breaks Kandu 5’s upper jaw and ruptures an artery.
While wild orca do rake and ram each other to maintain social order, this simply would not happen outside of the unnatural environment of a marine entertainment park. Kandu 5 and Corky are from 2 entirely different populations that would never have interacted in the ocean. Moreover, wild orca have the space they need to get out of the way.
At the time of the incident Kandu 5 was valued at $1 million.
Orkid witnessed this violence and stayed with her mother during the agonising 45 minutes it took for Kandu 5 to bleed to death. Swimming helpless beside her as she dies.
Orkid is just 11 months old.
Corky, the object of Kandu 5’s aggression has since become extremely close to Orkid and is regarded as a surrogate mother to her.
April 21st 1990
Less than a year later, Orkid’s first recorded offence appears on her SeaWorld rap sheet.
October 23rd 1994
Orkid gets another offence on her rap sheet.
Callisto, AD-20, is joined by a younger brother.
AD-16 gives birth to AD-28.
He is named Barwell.
Orkid has tooth removed. (LL3, to be precise)
January 25th 1996
February 9th 1996
July 3rd 1996
November 22nd 1996
November 15th 1997
June 23rd 1998
AD-16 gives birth to another calf, AD-32, the calf is named Sunny.
AD-20 Callisto gives birth to AD-33, the calf is named Keet.
July 31st 2002
AD-20 Callisto gives birth to her second calf.
AD-39 is called Neruda.
AD-16 gives birth to a calf, AD-38.
The calf is named Manna.
May 17th 2004
Yet another Rap Sheet entry for Orkid.
AD-20, Callisto gives birth to AD-41, the calf is charmingly named Happy.
May 6th 2005
“Dunking” is SeaWorld’s mildly whimsical way of saying that the trainer was grabbed and pulled under the water, often to the bottom of the tank. They make it sound almost playful.
November 15th 2006
SeaWorld finally call time on performing in the water with Orkid. After countless incidents and doubtlessly many more than made public, Orkid is clearly not safe to be in the water with. The trainer in the video (Brian Rokeach) was submerged for almost 30 seconds and was lucky to escape with torn ankle ligaments.
April 10th 2007
AD-20, Callisto gives birth to AD-43, otherwise known as Lorca
AD-16 dies. Since the death of her mother when she was 20, so different to that of 11 month old Orkid, AD-20 has had at least 1 more calf.
AD-46, born 2011.
While wild orca Callisto has been having calves at a healthy rate since she reached both physical and mental maturity, Orkid has not. She has been AI’d (artificially inseminated) on numerous occasions and not one of these highly invasive procedures has ever resulted in a confirmed pregnancy.
The entry on her Rap Sheet for April 2007 is a result of her unwillingness to undergo an ultrasound for yet another AI session. The procedure was eventually carried out successfully, but not before Orkid had head-swiped a trainer and knocked them over a wall.
Without doubt, the most chilling entry on her Rap Sheet is the one listed on July 31st 2002. Curiously, SeaWorld massively underplays the whole incident and even go so far as to call it a “rehearsal” for this incident:
This happened on August 7th 2002.
Not only is this incident missing from her Rap Sheet, SeaWorld don’t even list the injuries sustained giving a certain amount of credence to the claims of the movie “Blackfish” that the trainers are unaware of how dangerous the orca can be, because they aren’t given all the facts.
Despite all the recorded evidence, let alone anecdotal, SeaWorld are once again allowing trainers into the water with Orkid.
They just don’t do it in public…….yet.
*****Many thanks to the whaleasses for their boundless knowledge and assistance.
As ever, all and any errors are mine.