Ever wonder how the orcas, or killer whales, at SeaWorld got to SeaWorld? There are multiple ways to transport an aquatic animal such as an orca, most opt for either planes, jets, or flatbed semi trucks.
First and foremost, when transporting an orca the most important thing to SeaWorld is their comfort and health conditions. To provide the orca with the best of care, it is always accompanied by a SeaWorld representative and a veterinarian or animal care specialist. Once the orca’s comfort has been arranged, there is the complex system of actually getting the orca to it’s destination.
The routine can vary but is most commonly carried out like so: place orca into a sling, use crane to lift orca into a foam-padded and water filled container, drive container to airport, fly orca (in either a C-130 cargo plane or a FedEx jumbo jet) to closest airport near the new location, load orca, container, and orca’s company onto a flatbed semi truck and drive to new location, use crane to lift orca (who is once again in a sling) into it’s new home/pool. While the orca is in it’s container, water is constantly being poured on top of it despite the container being filled with water. During one transport, an orca, named Shouka, was being transported from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to SeaWorld San Diego and the container- with both Shouka and water in it- weighed about 19 tons. As an extra safeguard, highway patrol or the police will often escort the semi truck containing the orca to it’s location.
As said before, SeaWorld’s highest priority is the orca’s comfort and health throughout the trip. One orca, named Keet, was moved from SeaWorld San Antonio (where he was born) to SeaWorld San Diego, then to SeaWorld Orlando, where he was sent back to SeaWorld San Diego, and was ultimately transferred back to SeaWorld San Antonio. Keet, in spite of being moved at least four times, is one of SeaWorld San Antonio’s most playful and kind orcas.
Clearly, transporting an orca is a very hard job. The amount of time, effort, and care, though, that goes into the process is absolutely mind-blowing and a great achievement.
By: Peyton Erb
Photo Credits: https://seaworldcares.com