Shouka Transferred To SeaWorld California
Shouka, a 19-year old female orca who had been isolated and alone in a tank at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California was transferred to SeaWorld San Diego early Monday morning. She will join the park’s eight other killer whales, and will face pressures and trials of a different nature in trying to integrate into the orca hierarchy there. Shouka was captive borne at Marineland Antibes, France in 1993, and where her siblings still reside. At SeaWorld, Shouka will face the challenge of integrating into unstable or established orca hierarchies within an extremely stressful captive environment, and WDCS remains concerned about her welfare.
It is not uncommon for orcas to be transported between SeaWorld facilities, or even abroad to international facilities, such as the four SeaWorld orcas that were shipped to Loro Parque in 2006. The constant movement and relocation between facilities is extremely stressful, and the potential for harassment and injury has also been evidenced by other recent transfers of orcas between facilities. Morgan, a female orca rescued from the Wadden Sea was flown from Harderwijk Dolphinarium in the Netherlands to Loro Parque on Tenerife, and Ike, who was shipped from Marineland Canada to SeaWorld California, both have suffered injuries during integration at the new facilities.
And no move is routine. Scientific research has shown that acclimation for cetaceans transferred or transported between facilities is similar as when transferred into captivity from the wild, suggesting that the first 60-days after transfer will be a highly risky period of time for Shouka, who will be susceptible to injury and illness as she tries to adapt to her new home.