Holidaymakers have been left shocked after witnessing a fight between two orcas at SeaWorld in San Diego.
Video of the incident is believed to have been shot by a woman attending the park with her child, and was later shared with animal rights group PETA.
As the short clip begins, a large female whale can be seen beached outside of her pool as another orca lunges at her.
A child can be heard asking “How is it still alive? I thought they hug each other, not fight”.
Expert says similar orca attack would not occur in wild
Confining orcas in captivity remains highly controversial and SeaWorld responded to the video by saying PETA’s characterisation of it is “misleading and misconstrued”, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The theme park claimed the video simply shows “common orca behaviours" exhibited by wild populations, a claim disputed by orca expert Dr Ingrid Visser.
“It's not easy to see to what extent the animal on the ledge, which is believed to be Corky, is injured,” she told Yahoo News Australia.
“What I can also state is this is anything but normal. There is no way that in the wild an older female would be attacked like this.
“SeaWorld has a tendency to oversimplify things to create smoke and mirrors, and assume that the public is stupid.”
SeaWorld orca population dwindles following deaths
PETA has filed a complaint with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), claiming SeaWorld is responsible for Animal Welfare Act violations in regards to housing incompatible animals together.
The video surfaced days after Nakai, a 20-year-old orca who was born in captivity, died at the park from infection.
While some animal rights advocates have speculated the death was from a jaw injury inflicted in 2012 that left Nakai disfigured, SeaWorld did not confirm the infection location.
Nakai is the second orca to die at the park this year, while another died in 2021, leaving the park with just eight. It has agreed to no longer breed orcas in captivity.
SeaWorld has been contacted for comment.
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