PETA protests for injured orca - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

PETA protests for injured orca

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Warning: The above video is uncensored and may be disturbing to some viewers.

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8 / CNS) – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals staged a demonstration at SeaWorld San Diego Wednesday to protest the park's whale-management policies in the wake of an incident that left an 11-year-old killer whale with a gaping lower-jaw injury.

According to SeaWorld, the male orca named Nakai was injured during a nighttime performance Sept. 20 while engaging in normal social behavior with other whales.

PETA, however, contends in its blog, the "PETA Files," that Nakai was attacked by two other orcas, Keet and Ikaika. It also quoted Ingrid N. Visser, founder and principal scientist of the Orca Research Trust, as saying that photographs of the injury show puncture marks consistent with the spacing of orca teeth.

"You can see here, there's some sort of a puncture wound and that diameter and size and distance would match up with orca teeth," explained Dr. Visser. "But it could possibly also be the nuts that SeaWorld has on top of their rails, although I think the spacing is too close together for that. I think it's actually from the orca teeth."

Dr. Visser of New Zealand has swum with orcas in open water and is a leading researcher of the animal.

She took a picture Sunday, despite efforts by SeaWorld to keep her away.

"When I was watching him, they realized I was watching him, so they moved him to another tank, so I couldn't view him properly," she continued.

In a complaint lodged with the U.S. Agriculture Department, PETA said it wants SeaWorld disciplined for not keeping the whales separated as required under the Animal Welfare Act. According to PETA, the law requires incompatible marine mammals to be kept in separate enclosures.

Around 30 people took part in the peaceful protest, holding signs while standing on a sidewalk outside the park.

SeaWorld representatives say the killer whale was injured during a night show, when he came in contact with some portion of the pool. They do not agree with Dr. Visser's theory that Nakai was attacked by another orca in his pool.

This following is a statement from SeaWorld released to News 8:

SeaWorld's zoological facilities and methods of care exceed standards set by the Animal Welfare Act. There is no organization more passionately committed to the physical, mental and social care and well-being of animals than SeaWorld. The real advocates for animals are the trainers, aviculturists, animal care staff and veterinarians at SeaWorld.

Nakai's wound continues to heal quite well. The vets and his trainers are very pleased with the progress. They are seeing plenty of new tissue growth. His behavior is also perfectly normal (and always has been) and he is interacting well with his trainers and the other whales.

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