Heartbreaking story of world’s ‘saddest’ SeaWorld orca Corky who lost all 7 of her babies in 'cruel' inbreeding program | The Sun

A SEAWORLD orca dubbed the "saddest in the world" has spent the last 48 years in a concrete tank losing all of her seven calves.

Corky the killer whale was taken from her family in 1969 before eventually being moved to SeaWorld San Diego in 1987 and is believed to be the orca who has spent the longest in captivity.

Animal Charity PETA has been campaigning for the animal to be released into a sanctuary as they believe she has suffered years of 'abuse' at the hands of SeaWorld trainers.

The killer whale has now spent 48 years of her life held in a captivity – often in a concrete tank smaller than the size of an Olympic swimming pool.

Corky, 52, is partially blind in one eye with worn-down teeth and failing kidneys and is often seen swimming around in endless circles say PETA.

The whale has also lost all of her seven babies whilst in captivity as part of two breeding programs – with all her young calves dying before making it to adulthood.


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She bred six youngsters at the now-closed Marineland, in California – where she was inseminated with her own cousin's semen, it's believed.

Her last baby, born at SeaWorld, was found dead at the bottom of her tank in 1987.

Things would only get worse for Corky when she was attacked by another female Orca in August 1989 who became overprotective of her calf.

SeaWorld killer whale Kandu launched full speed at Corky during a live performance before dying from her horror injuries, spouting blood from her blowhole for 45 minutes.

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Corky would become a surrogate mum to Kandu's calf Orkid – the only chance she would get to experience motherhood.

Due to the orca's plight and that of other animals in SeaWorld care, animal rights campaigners have targeted the park for years.

They have been accused of exploiting animals for financial gain, taking them from their natural habitats and 'forcing' them to perform in front of cheering crowds.

SeaWorld has always fiercely denied the claims and said that releasing Corky back into the wild would be a 'death sentence' as she would no longer be able to fend for herself.

They told The Sun Online that Corky was receiving the best of care at the park and she would not be prepared for hazards in the wild having spent many years in captivity.

Corky currently lives with eight other Orcas at the park while various animal charities are battling to have her released into the wild.


In 1969 off the coast of British Colombia, Vancouver, a four-year-old Corky was torn from her mother's side along with two others for her pod – an unnamed male and a female later named Patches.

They were sold to Marineland of the Pacific, California, where she received her name and was kept in a tank with a male Orca – Orky, believed to be her cousin.

They remained together for the next seventeen years and she became the first killer whale to give birth in captivity in 1977.

However, the calf failed to nurse and died of pneumonia 11 days later.

Corky and Orky would have six calves together with the oldest only surviving for just 46 days.

In 1987 Corky was sold to SeaWorld where she would be inseminated again before the calf was found dead at the bottom of her tank.

Despite her pain, she showed few signs of aggression and worked with trainers to become one of the park's main performers – even inheriting the stage name 'Shamu'.

In August 1980, Corky and another younger whale Orkid were taking part in a performance together in front of a packed stadium.

Orkid's dominant mother Kandu remained in one of the side pools but became jealous of the pair's closeness.

Suddenly, Kandu entered the show pool and swam after the larger female, ramming into her at full speed with her mouth open.

Although Corky was okay, Kandu broke her jaw, severing a major artery in her nasal passages.

She died with blood spouting out of her blowhole in front of horrified spectators.

This the not the first time a killer whale in SeaWorld's care has died – with at least 43 have died at the attraction.

In 2019 SeaWorld Orlando announced that an orca named Kayla died of 'lung disease' and provided no other details on her death.

In the same year, a pilot whale named Fredi died after 'persistent health problems' and was the fourth to die in the space of just three years.

Tikilum the killer whale also killed three SeaWorld trainers with experts putting his 'psychotic' behaviour down to his 30 years in captivity.


PETA is now campaigning to get Corky released into the wild so she can enjoy a better quality of life.

Sadly Corky's mother, who remained in the wild died in 2000 but many of her relatives still swim in the same area.

A team of experts have identified a large holding area that would be used to slowly introduce Corky back into her natural habitat and encourage her to begin hunting for herself.

PETA told The Sun Online: "Corky’s heartbreaking story is the perfect example of why wild animals don’t belong in marine parks.

"From thriving in her home in the ocean to being dubbed “the world’s saddest orca”, Corky has seen everything that’s natural and important to her be taken away.

"This includes her calves, all seven of whom passed away within 47 days of being born.

"From the day she was taken from her home, her life has been filled with deprivation, pain, and loss.

"PETA is urging SeaWorld to undo some of the harm it has done by releasing Corky and the other animals it holds captive into seaside sanctuaries, where they could have a semblance of the life that was taken away from them."

SeaWorld told The Sun Online that the accredited zoological park had nearly 60 years of experience in caring for killer whales with devoted vets and specialists.

They said: "Corky receives a standard of care that exceeds those set by the government agencies and meets those of independent, third-party animal welfare groups that monitor and endorse the care of animals in accredited zoos and aquariums. 

"The knowledge gained from her care and study in our accredited zoological setting helps researchers, scientists and veterinarians better understand and conserve these majestic animals in the wild.

They go on to say that SeaWorld supports killer whale conservation projects through the National Fish, Wildlife Foundation’s Killer Whale conservation program and the SeaWorld Conservation Fund.

They also added: "Sea sanctuaries are not a viable option for Corky.  We are not aware of one that is built that could be assessed as an option. 

"Ocean-based housing would expose her to a range of health hazards – bacteria, viruses, pollution, poor water quality – that Corky does not encounter in human care and against which her immune system may be unable to cope.

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"To our knowledge, there are no sea sanctuaries with the consistent financial funding and full time experienced veterinary care necessary to ensure long term health and care for an orca. 

"It is our veterinarian’s professional opinion that a sea sanctuary would result in significant risk to Corky’s health and wellbeing and would not be in her best interests."

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