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Location of Capture: Iceland Date of Capture: 26th October 1978
A group of several Orcas were captured off the coast of Iceland on 26th October 1978. They were then transferred to the Hafnarfjordur Aquarium where they were trained and put up for sale.
One of the whales, a female later named Katina, was presumably purchased by SeaWorld but was instead sent to Marineland Ontario. Here, she met the resident whales Kanduke and Knootka until she was transferred to SeaWorld Ohio in June of 1979 where she joined the females Kandu V and Kenau.
When the summer season ended, all 3 whales were sent to the San Diego park where they joined the other whales, and Katina was reunited with Kasatka and Kotar; two of the whales she was captured with. Katina would spend the next 5 years being sent to the Ohio park during the summers before being returned to the San Diego park during the winters.
In 1984, she was transferred permanently to the Orlando park where she became pregnant at 9 years old with her first calf, and in 1985, gave birth to Kalina, who was also known as the Original Baby Shamu. Although Orca calves had been born prior to Kalina, she was the first captive born calf to survive to adulthood.
Three years later, in 1988, Katina gave birth to her second calf, another female named Katerina. However, Kalina was moved to Ohio in 1990 and Katerina followed in 1991 while Katina stayed behind at the Orlando park. Her third calf was born in 1993; a male named Taku.
In 1996, Katina gave birth to her fourth calf, another female named Unna who was moved to the Texas park in 2002; after the birth of Katina’s fifth calf, a male named Ikaika, in 2001.
Katina had close bonds with all of her calves and has been very protective over them as she has been observed in the past swimming between trainers and calves to separate them. Her close mother-calf bonds led to the birth of her sixth calf, a female named Nalani, in 2006 who was a result of Katina and her son Taku mating; meaning that Taku was not only Nalani’s father, but also her brother.
Nalani is the very first surviving inbred captive Orca calf, and still resides at the Orlando park today with her mother.
SeaWorld came under fire after Nalani’s birth when court documents retrieved by PETA revealed that Katina had been receiving doses of Diazepam, otherwise known as Valium, when Nalani was only 9 days old and still nursing. Diazepam is a psychoactive drug used to treat various issues including anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, etc. It is mainly used in cats and dogs as a short-term sedative, an appetite stimulant, or to inhibit anxiety or seizures.
Taku and Ikaika were also put on Diazepam after both attacked Nalani, as well as after Ikaika was observed trying to mate with Nalani. Katina was put on the drug mainly because park officials had noticed that she’d begun paying more attention to Taku and nursing was decreasing in consistency.
Taku and Ikaika were separated from Katina and Nalani, but Katina remained focused on her sons and also began displacing Nalani. As a result, Taku was moved to the Texas park, where he died in 2007, while Ikaika was moved to Marineland Ontario and then the San Diego park. After the males were moved, Katina returned her focus to Nalani and began resembling what had been observed in the past with her other calves.
The controversy started because, according to veterinarian John Knight, Diazepam is not meant for use on pregnant or nursing females as it can cause birth defects and interfere with the development of the nursing neonate.
Katina has also displaced many of the whales, including the Icelandic male Tilikum who was harassed often by Katina until he was put in isolation. When Kalina returned to the Orlando park in 1994, she apparently attempted to take over as dominant female, fighting with her own mother until Katina put a stop to the behavior. She is also known to be fairly aggressive and has been recorded in her SeaWorld profile as having bumped, mouthed, and pushed trainers in the pools before.
In 2010, Katina had her seventh and possibly last calf, another male named Makaio.