SeaWorld Killer Whale ‘Too Depressed To Feed Her Calf’ – SeaWorld Responds, Claim Experts Are Incorrect [UPDATE]

A killer whale at SeaWorld is so depressed that she won’t even feed her 2-year-old baby, according to experts.

A new video shows Orca experts traveling to SeaWorld in San Diego to check up on Kasatka has emerged, and it makes for harrowing viewing, especially when it comes to her treatment of her child, Makani.

Marine Biologist Ingrid Visser and ex-Sea World trainer John Hargrove traveled to SeaWorld San Diego on October 7, to examine and analyze the behavior of the orcas. They also took the camera crew for the upcoming orca documentary, Superpod, along with them to document what they found.

Orcas at SeaWorld
[Photo by Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego via Getty Images]
The pair immediately noticed that Kasatka was acting rather strangely, and that she just wasn’t interacting with Makani at all. More alarmingly is the fact that Makani was constantly asking Kasatka to feed and nurse her, but that the mother simply ignored her.

Makani can repeatedly be seen banging her head into Kasatka’s belly. Hargrove explains in the clip that this is a “precursor to nursing.” However, Kasatka decides to just ignore her pleas.

This has clearly been going on for some time too, because Kasatka has even developed a bruise underneath her stomach because of the incessant banging.

Visser then explained, “That’s just because the calf is constantly trying to get food, so desperately hungry, so bored. It’s a stereotypic behavior now.”

All of this behaviour led Hargrove, who now works as an anti-captivity advocate following his tenure as a senior orca trainer at SeaWorld for several years, to explain that Kasatka is “so depressed, [she’s] incapable of taking care of her calf.”

Leading orca researcher Naomi Rose, who works at the Animal Welfare Institute, even confirmed, via The Huffington Post, that Kasatka’s actions were rather abnormal.

“If I saw a calf head-bumping its mother over and over and nothing coming of it then I would definitely consider that abnormal,” Rose declared. “Normally when a calf solicits nursing that way, the mother nurses! The calf is probably not getting the milk it needs.”

Other bizarre antics from Kasatka has included her simply staring at a concrete wall for no explicit reason, which Hargrove insisted was “insane.”

[Image by Getty/Matt Stroshane]
[Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images]
Kastka was spotted simply floating in the water in a position that made it impossible for her to feed her young, even though Makani was seen repeatedly banging on her and requesting to be nursed.

This provoked Hargrove to explain, “Just imagine like a crying baby needing something from the mother, and the mother so depressed that she is incapable of looking after her calf.”

You can watch the Superpod Doc’s Orca Experts Go To SeaWorld video below.

Hargrove and Visser hope that their discoveries and footage can inspire people to take action against SeaWorld’s treatment of these killer whales and orcas.

However, they are clearly facing obstructions and challenges from SeaWorld, who even during the course of them filming this clip forced the pair and their camera crew to evacuate the park.

In fact, following the release of the above video, SeaWorld’s communications director, Aimee Jeansonne Becka, immediately went on the defensive, and insisted that the actions of the whales were completely normal.

According to One Green Planet, Becka explained that “the so-called killer whale experts have got it all wrong.” She added that “the resting behavior seen (by Visser) is a natural behavior seen in the wild” and that “no-one is more dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our whales than the expert veterinarians and animal care staff working with them every day.”

For more information on the plight of captive Orcas and how they usual fare being in these conditions, visit WDC.


In response, the Inquisitr was contacted by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s communications department, which insisted that Visser and Hargrove’s YouTube video included many errors. Becka wrote:

“At the most basic level, these so-called killer whale experts have it all wrong, beginning with:

· They have confused a fully weaned killer whale with a nursing baby. The video shows Makani, an almost 3-year-old killer whale weighing 2,130 pounds, and his mom Kasatka. Makani is fully weaned and eats about 65 pounds of fish a day.

· The whale they identify is often seen pair swimming with Kasatka. Makani “bumping” Kasatka is a commonly observed bonding behavior, and there is no bruising present.

· The resting behavior in the video is a natural behavior seen in the wild. For example, the Southern Resident ecotypes have been seen resting as much as 10-21% of the time. (Heimlich-Boran 1988, Ford 1989, Morton 1990, Baird and Dill 1995, Ford and Ellis 1999, Saulitis et al. 2000)

The video is actually indicative of the many things killer whale biologists still learn from our animals, as field researchers have very few opportunities to witness their full lifecycle, from calf births and nursing to adulthood.

No one is more dedicated to the health and well-being of our killer whales than the expert veterinarians and animal care staff working with them every day.

A video has also been uploaded to YouTube by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in response to Visser and Hargrove.

[Photo by Sea World via Getty Images]

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