SeaWorld prepares for last orca birth at its parks

Patrons watch the Orcas play from the underwater viewing area at the Shamu Up Close attraction at Sea World in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 7, 2014. (Joshua C. Cruey/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — SeaWorld officials are preparing for the last birth of an orca at one of its parks.

According to a statement Tuesday from the Orlando-based company, the calf will be born at SeaWorld San Antonio in the next four to six weeks.

The mother, 25-year-old Takara, was already pregnant when SeaWorld announced last year that it was ending its orca breeding program. The gestation period for orcas is approximately 18 months.

Over two dozen orcas will remain on display for decades at SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio. But the birth of Takara’s calf will be the last opportunity for visitors and marine scientists to see a baby orca up close.

SeaWorld officials say Takara and the calf will be monitored by a St. Mary’s University research team.

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