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Last-ever killer whale calf to be bred in captivity at SeaWorld is born

The calf will be the last ever to be born at a SeaWorld park Credit: SeaWorld

A killer whale calf has been born at SeaWorld's Texas resort - the last to be born at any of the company's parks.

The baby was born to the 25-year-old matriarch of the San Antonio resort's orca pod, Takara, on Wednesday afternoon.

Takara was already pregnant when SeaWorld announced it was ending its orca breeding programme last year, saying "society is changing".

"This is an exciting and emotional day for us at SeaWorld, and we are all so proud to share this new killer whale calf with the world after a year and a half of planning and observing and providing all the special care," said Chris Bellows, SeaWorld Texas' vice president of zoological operations.

“Takara is a great mom and immediately began bonding with and caring for her new baby."

The gender of the calf will be confirmed at a later date, once Takara appears comfortable with allowing her trainers to meet her latest arrival.

They will name it at that point.

Guests will be able to view Takara and her calf from next week Credit: SeaWorld

The end of the orca breeding programme was announced after the company confirmed it would end its killer whale shows by 2019, following a 2013 documentary which argued captivity was harmful to the whales both physically and emotionally.

However, the company has said it would not be able to release the creatures into the while because most were born and raised in captivity and would "likely die" if set free.

"Although this will be the last opportunity for guests of SeaWorld to see a baby killer whale up close as it grows and matures, SeaWorld will continue to have orcas at its parks for decades to come," the company said in a statement.

But PETA has argued the mother and baby should be "retired" to "a seaside sanctuary, where they may someday be reunited with Takara's mother, other children, and grandchildren."

SeaWorld will begin to allow guests to observe Takara and her calf during set times from next week.