The fate of an orphaned killer whale is at the heart of a dispute between her caretakers and some animal rights activists. At issue: whether she should stay in Mexico or be transferred to Sea World in San Diego.
The orca, named Pascuala, has been living at Vallarta Adventure Park since she was found bleeding on a Mexican beach about a month ago. Trainers and vets have been feeding her milk through a tube around the clock.
She is getting healthier and the park's owners want to send her to Sea World San Diego. Pascuala's caretakers say there simply isn't a tank in Mexico big enough to hold her when she grows up, and they fear she has become so dependent on humans for feeding, that she will die if released into the wild.
Some environmentalists contend sending the orca to the U.S. would set a dangerous precedent and open up the possibility of enabling animal traffickers to export killer whales. "It hurts us that this animal might die, but we cannot set a negative precedent," said Alejandro Olivera, head of ocean campaigns for Greenpeace in Mexico.
If Mexico refuses the transfer to Sea World, Pascuala could be
released into the ocean. Scientists would have to find Pascuala's family pod and
hope it would accept her.