Updated: 28 September 2012
Killer whale injury 'down to the bone'
Source: Aaron Burgin, U-T San Diego
The injuries suffered last week by Sea World San Diego orca Nakai could take months to heal, an veterinary expert says.
Dr. Nancy Anderson, a veterinarian with the University of California Davis Wildlife Center and a former veterinarian at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, said the injury did not have the characteristics of a wound caused by another orca.
“The edges of that wound are so smooth, if it were the teeth of an orca, there is no way it could look like that,” Anderson said. “It looks more consistent with the animal getting snagged on something and pulling away from it.”
Anderson said the wound appeared to be “pretty deep,” but didn’t believe the injury was life-threatening.
“It would be just like if you or I had a really deep wound,” Anderson said. “Of course, there is the risk for complication or infection, but if it is avoided, the orca should make a full recovery.”
The Watchdog is looking into the injury after photos surfaced showing the injury to the whale’s lower-jaw area. The photographer has chosen to remain anonymous, but says images come from a video taken midday on Thursday.
The injury to Nakai, an 11-year-old whale, occurred when he came into contact with a portion of the pool during a night performance on Sept. 20, said SeaWorld spokesman Dave Koontz.
The whale was treated by veterinarians and is on a course of antibiotics. Park officials did not disclose details of the injury.
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