Hurt SeaWorld whale continues recovery

Nakai injured during Sept. performance

SAN DIEGO - Nakai, the killer whale that suffered a gaping injury to its jaw in September at SeaWorld San Diego, continues to recover, theme park officials said Tuesday.

Nakai is receiving antibiotics and gets laser treatment every other day to stimulate new tissue growth and prevent secondary infection, according to SeaWorld.

"Nakai's wound is healing very well and we're pleased with how the skin is contracting around the wound," said Dr. Todd Schmitt, SeaWorld San Diego's senior veterinarian in a statement. "It's filling in 60 to 70 percent of the tissue already."

According to SeaWorld, the 11-year-old orca was hurt during a Sept. 20 performance while it was interacting with other whales, and images that traveled about the Internet showed a gruesome open wound. Park officials said it appeared Nakai struck a portion of the pool area near a gate.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals contended that two other whales in the pool attacked Nakai, and filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that SeaWorld violated rules by failing to keep incompatible marine mammals separated.

In response, SeaWorld San Diego said the well-being of animals at the park is "paramount" and stewardship is taken very seriously.

The park statement said that Nakai is interacting normally with trainers and other whales, but has not returned to performing in shows.

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