SeaWorld gets new killer whale today
Shouka had a bottlenose dolphin as a companion at that park, but a compatibility issue prompted the pair to be separated. Six Flags officials tried to find another suitable companionship for her, but ultimately could not, Koontz said.
“The decision was made to relocate her to a place where she could live with companions, preferably killer whales,” he said.
Although the killer whale was living alone until her transfer, she was “socially enriched” by interacting with trainers and was not isolated, he said.
Shouka was flown from Oakland to Lindbergh Field about 6 a.m. in a nylon sling inside a foam-padded container filled with water. The container was loaded onto a flatbed truck with a veterinarian, animal care specialists and trainers and taken to SeaWorld with a California Highway Patrol escort, Koontz said.
A crane lowered Shouka into the park’s Shamu pool complex.
“The first order of business here will be for her to become introduced and integrated into the killer whale family here — we have eight killer whales already — as well as get to know her new trainers and acclimate herself to her new home,” Koontz said. Shouka spent time today with the park’s oldest female killer whale, “Corky,” he said.
Shouka previously performed in shows, but Koontz said there was no timetable for when Shouka would be able to perform at the San Diego park.
“Our training here is based solely on positive reinforcement, so the animals are never forced to do anything,” Koontz said. “We will let her take her time and get used to her new home.” Shouka had been on a long-term breeding loan from Marineland in France for about 10 years. He said that loan was extended to SeaWorld San Diego.
“There’s nothing specific out there that’s saying what we’re going to do, but there’s no reason she can’t be a part of our breeding program,” Koontz said.