A mysterious and massive gash in a killer whale’s chin at SeaWorld San Diego sparked criticism over treatments of animals at the California park. Nakai, an 11-year-old performing whale has a gash so deep that it left the creature’s jaw bone exposed. SeaWorld park officials maintain the injury happened when Nakai hit against the side of the pool, but others claim the massive animal may have been fighting with two other killer whales, the Daily Mail reports.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) accused SeaWorld San Diego of housing incompatible whales together in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. Although the official park statement maintains the killer whale came into contact with a portion of the pool environment, PETA filed a complaint with the US Department of Agriculture, KTLA reports.
The group believes that the injury was not a habitat environment accident but resulted from a battle with pool mates Keet and Ike. PETA reportedly feels Nakai was either bitten by one of the other killer whales or smashed into a concrete pool wall.
Journalist Tim Zimmerman had this to say about the SeaWorld San Diego injury:
“It happened last week during a night show, seemingly during a major alteration involving Nakai, Keet, and Ike. It’s not clear it there was an aggressor or instigator, or if they all suddenly went after each other. In response to the altercation, Nakai split to the back pool. The onstage trainers, not realizing how badly injured he was, continued the show with the other whales.”
PETA accused SeaWorld of having a long history of housing incompatible orca whales together, resulting in agitation, serious injury, and even death. The park denies such claims, noting that no other organization in the world is more committed to the social, physical, and mental welfare of animals than SeaWorld.
Nikai is currently being treated with antibiotics and is allegedly swimming and interacting just fine with the other killer whales at the San Diego park.