APNewsBreak: Baby orca! Last killer whale born at SeaWorld

So last March, SeaWorld announced it would no longer breed its killer whales. The announcement came as a result of animal rights protests over the company's orca program.

The last killer whale to be born at SeaWorld was delivered at the company's San Antonio park. The amusement park giant announced past year it will end its orca breeding program and stop the shows after pressure from animal rights advocates and public perception following the release of the film 'Blackfish'.

Julie Sigman, an Assistant Curator at SeaWorld San Antonio who has been with Takara through three of her last pregnancies and births, expressed her excitement at watching the calf surface to take its first breath. The mother, 25-year-old Takara, was already pregnant last year when SeaWorld stopped the breeding program. The typical gestation period for an orca whale is 18 months.

SeaWorld San Antonio welcomed an orca calf on Wednesday April 19, 2017 afternoon, the last to be born at a SeaWorld park.

SeaWorld Chief Zoological Officer, Chris Dold, deemed the birth of the last orca baby a bittersweet experience. SeaWorld said mother and calf both appear healthy. "It's a tempered celebration only because we're focused on the health of these guys". Observations about the calf and Takara by SeaWorld trainers will be provided from the moment of birth to researchers trying to fill gaps in their data about wild killer whales. A 2013 documentary and animal rights activists called the breeding program into question, charging that killer whales were harmed in captivity. It brings SeaWorld's orca population in the U.S.to 23.

More than 22 million guests a year visit SeaWorld and support its mission to deliver experiences that matter and inspire protection of the wild world.

Visitors will have the opportunity see Takara and her calf in "the near future during select times", the company said in its statement.

SeaWorld will continue to care for the orcas at its parks-orcas live a lengthy life and Takara is 25, for example-but the theatrical shows and tricks are over.