Next up on my Whale Wednesday list is Shouka, a 23 year old female orca who is currently residing at SeaWorld San Diego!
Her Life Before SeaWorld
Shouka wasn’t actually born into SeaWorld’s collection, even though she lives there today. She was the first orca to be born at Marineland in France way back on February 25th, 1993. Her parents were Sharkan and Kim2, but spent the majority of her young life with her mother and another Orca named Freya.
When Shouka was 3 years of age, Freya gave birth to a male calf named Valentin who would soon become inseperable. However, you may have heard (if you follow orca related news, that is) that Valentin sadly passed away in October last year after his tank was swamped with dirty water during a flood.
Shouka became a big sister to two more calfs; Inouk in 1999 and Wilkie in 2001. This calf interaction set Shouka up for a clear future of becoming a great mother one day. However, as the breeding ban has now come into play, it looks like Shouka is going to remain calfless for the rest of her life – which is great news! There’s already too many orcas in captivity!
Those skills haven’t gone to waste though. Her experience with calves has seen her interact and play with other whales’ calfs in the tank and she proves to be a great influence over them.
Shouka was moved to Six Flags in 2002; firstly to the Ohio park then moved two years later to the California venue. Sadly for Shouka, this was the beginning of a long 10 year stint as the only orca in the park, with only dolphins for company. There were rumours about Kshamenk being moved to the park to be her tank mate, but that never came to fruition.
Moving to SeaWorld
It all changed again for Shouka in 2011 after she apparently began becoming aggressive to one of her dolphin tank mates, but luckily for her, Six Flags were quickly trying to rehome her after getting into a spot of bother with the law which stated that orcas can’t be kept alone and need to be with other animals of their species. They tried to send her to Marineland in Canada, but it was ultimately SeaWorld who would take charge of Shouka’s future care.
In 2012, she was moved to SeaWorld San Diego where she became very close with Corky, and later on Kalia would become one of her close tankmates, too. That’s not to say that she doesn’t interact with other whales, though!
Shouka has been known to show aggression to trainers in the past, with one very publicised attack on a trainer during her time at Six Flags. You can see the attack in the video below, but I really do believe this was a sign of frustration at being on her own for nearly 10 years of her life.
In the video, you can see her lunge out of the water and try and grab the trainer she is working with.
However, it has been reported that after being introduced to the artificial pod at San Diego, she has calmed down quite a lot, and is happy to swim around and interact with her tankmmates – especially Kalia’s new baby, Amaya.
How To Identify Her
Shoula is incredibly agile, and you’ll be seeing her leap right into the air as she performs behaviours – much like Kayla at Orlando. She also emits some very unique vocals which you can hear below.
She is very petite in size; measuring 17 feet in length and weighting around 5,000 lbs, and her dorsal fin is starting to lean slightly to the right. Her flukes are also unique – bending up rather than down.
Her eyepatches are almost completely oval in shape, but aren’t a very defined line -they appear to fade into the black areas of her skin gradually. She also has one of the mosy beautiful saddlepatches I have ever seen – it has a very unique shape!
Apparently the condition of her transfer was that she was on a breeding loan to SeaWorld. Now that the breeding program has ended, I do worry a little about the future Shouka has ahead of her. If you’d like to talk about any of the whales mentioned on Whale Wednesdays, or simply want to keep up to date with my posts, be sure to go give my Facebook page a like or my Twitter a follow!
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