SEAWORLD has “played god” with orcas during its breeding program, breeding aggressive hybrid killer whales, a former trainer has claimed.
John Hargroves, who has spent most of his 20 years training orcas at Seaworld, says whales that would never meet naturally in the wild have been inseminated while others have been able to inbreed .
Trainer John says the world-famous marine park had “no idea” what they were creating and worries the horror breeding program may have led to more aggressive orcas being kept in captivity.
John, who starred in the bombastic documentary Black Fish after leaving SeaWorld, compared the sea attraction to the film Jurassic World.
In the blockbuster film, scientists create a hybrid dinosaur to serve as a theme park’s main attraction, but the creature goes on a deadly rampage after outwitting its keepers.
John says that’s exactly what happened at SeaWorld in its desperate attempt to breed more orcas for its live shows, which draw millions of visitors each year.
He explains how orcas caught in the Pacific were bred with Icelandic killer whales – when the two never crossed paths outside of captivity.
John blamed SeaWorld’s irresponsible breeding for their genetically engineered whales, which would never survive in the wild simply because they don’t exist.
Exclusively to The Sun, he said: “It’s like Jurassic World, the whole premise of the film is that they created hybrid dinosaurs.
“That’s what we did at SeaWorld.
“It can happen that you’re in captivity, you can have an Icelandic whale with a Pacific whale, then eventually mating can occur.
“But in nature they would never mix, some might mix, but they’re family units, so breeding doesn’t happen.”
He continued, “But when you put them in captivity, those parameters break down, it’s a totally unnatural environment.”
John added, “The most important thing about creating a hybrid orca is that you really have no idea what you’ve created because they don’t exist in nature. So anything is possible.”
Seaworld orcas were also able to mate with family members due to poor planning and the fact that the whales were no longer in their protective family pods, John says.
In 2007, orca Katina and her own son Taku gave birth to a calf named Nalani – it’s not clear if the two were able to mate or if Katina was artificially inseminated.
Three years later, SeaWorld orca Kohana gave birth to a calf after she was able to mate with her uncle – she immediately rejected the baby, which survived and remains in Tenerife’s marine park, Loro Parque.
John said, “We’ve had a few cases of inbreeding at SeaWorld.
“Katina’s son Taku bred her and she had the calf, he [Taku] later died of syphilis at another park after impregnating his own mother.
“As you might expect, she didn’t treat her calf like the others. She wasn’t ignoring it or nurturing it, but she was doing the minimum and no interaction—so she knew.
“When SeaWorld sent four orcas to Loro Parque, one of the female Kohana was taken from her mother and shipped to Spain.
“Then she was bred by her uncle Keto and had calves when she was unnaturally young. These things wouldn’t happen if the mother was there.
“No mother or other woman to help – she had no protection.”
In 2016, California passed legislation banning captive breeding of killer whales — SeaWorld responded by announcing that it would end its captive breeding programs at all three parks.
However, breeding is still legal in countries like Japan and Russia, where killer whales are still used for live shows.
Before the ban, Jon Reilly, then-President of SeaWorld San Diego, stated that “a breeding ban would doom these animals to a slow extinction in our care.”
SeaWorld later said it was going in a “new direction,” but their remaining orca would remain in the park as they “would not survive in the wild.”
Since 1961, about 166 orcas have been taken captive from the wild — SeaWorld keeps 18 of these orcas at its three parks across the United States, according to the Whales and Dolphin Conservation.
Of the 18 surviving SeaWorld orcas, six are hybrid whales, some of which are known to have aggressive tendencies.
The hybrid orca Keto, who was born at SeaWorld San Diego in 1995, killed trainer Alexis Martinez after being loaned to Loro Parque.
Another hybrid killer whale, Tuar, sent to the Texas park began behaving aggressively before grabbing a trainer’s leg.
Most of SeaWorld’s orcas were bred in captivity using semen from SeaWorld’s most famous orca, Tilikum.
Only a select number of orcas could be used for breeding, largely because it takes years to train a sexually mature male for staff to collect a semen sample — leaving the park with a small gene pool.
It’s like Jurassic World, the whole premise of the movie is that they created hybrid dinosaurs. That’s exactly what we did at SeaWorld.
SeaWorld star Tiklikum, believed to be responsible for the deaths of three people, now has 21 offspring in captivity, with his genes found in 54 percent of SeaWorld’s collection, according to former trainer Samantha Berg.
During the Black Fish documentary, Samantha says, “In any serious breeding program, rule number one is that you certainly would not breed an animal that has shown a history of aggression toward humans.
“Imagine if you had a pit bull that killed, that animal would probably have been euthanized.”
Although SeaWorld claimed its breeding program aimed to inspire guests to protect orcas in the wild, it has been largely unsuccessful.
Of 28 live births in the three parks, nine babies died, while others were stillborn, miscarried, or died while still in the mother.
The Sun last month shared the tragic story of SeaWorld Orca Corky, who lost all of her seven babies at Marineland and SeaWorld.
She lost her last calf at SeaWorld San Diego after the baby orca was found dead on the floor of her tank in 1987.
Orcas are known to live in tight groups in the wild, with calves living with their parents for decades until they are fully grown.
But former trainers revealed that many SeaWorld mothers and calves were separated and the baby was sent to another park.
The park has faced serious setbacks after the release of the bombastic documentary Black Fish, in which several trainers spoke about their time there.
Additionally, several animal rights organizations have campaigned for the parks to be closed permanently, urging visitors to boycott the “inhumane” sea attraction.
The Sun Online has reached out to SeaWorld for comment.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5996109/warning-over-seaworld-orcas-jurassic-park-breeding-aggressive-hybrid/ SeaWorld orca warning as trainer says ‘Jurassic Park-style’ breeding program has created ‘aggressive hybrid beasts’