SAN DIEGO - Officials of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced Friday they have filed a complaint with the Department of Agriculture for conditions at SeaWorld San Diego, where an 11-year-old killer whale suffered a gaping injury to the lower jaw.
A SeaWorld statement said the whale, a male named Nakai, was injured during a nighttime performance Sept. 20, but did not make clear how the injury occurred, other than to say it occurred during "normal social behavior."
"Nakai is currently receiving antibiotics and the veterinarians are pleased with the healing progress of his wound," the statement read. Despite the injury, the whale is "swimming comfortably and interacting with other killer whales" in the Shamu Stadium pool complex at the marine park, according to park officials.
PETA, however, contends in its blog, the "PETA Files," that a whistleblower said Nakai was attacked by two other orcas, Keet and Ikaika.
In the complaint to the 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.
In response, Dave Koontz of SeaWorld San Diego issued another statement late Friday that said, "There is no organization in the world more committed to the physical, social and mental welfare of its animals than SeaWorld. All of our trainers, animal care staff and veterinarians are tremendously passionate in caring for our animals."
The well-being of animals at the park is "paramount" and stewardship of the animals at SeaWorld is taken very seriously, Koontz said.
U-T San Diego quoted Dr. Nancy Anderson, a veterinarian with the UC Davis Wildlife Center and a former veterinarian at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, as saying Nakai's injury was too smooth to have been caused by another orca, and was more consistent with getting snagged on something and trying to pull away.