Killer Whale Injury at SeaWorld Puzzles Experts

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killer whale at SeaWorld in San Diego recently sustained a deep gash to its lower jaw, according to KTLA in Los Angeles.

In a statement, SeaWorld said that the orca Nakai, an 11-year-old male, was hurt during a performance that took place on the night of September 20.

"Nakai is currently receiving antibiotics and the veterinarians are

pleased with the healing progress of his wound,'' the statement read.

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As you can see from the video below, there is some question as to how the orca actually sustained the injury. Was it because of an altercation with other killer whales, or because the male somehow painfully interacted with a piece of equipment or other feature in its enclosure?

Ingrid N. Visser, founder

and principal scientist of the Orca Research Trust, found that there are "puncture

marks that match orca teeth spacing," which "is a clear indication

that an altercation between the orcas was involved."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is now involved in the matter and has submitted a complaint "asking the U.S. Department of

Agriculture to take disciplinary action against SeaWorld for housing orcas

incompatibly in violation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)," according to a blog post authored by PETA's Jeff Mackey.

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Journalist Tim Zimmerman has been following the news, and has posted several up-close and disturbing photos of the injury. You can see them here.

"SeaWorld parks have a long history of housing incompatible orcas

from widely divergent groups together in enclosures–and the result has

been stress, agitation, aggressive and bloody raking, serious injury,

and death," PETA said in a statement.

The organization went on to say that the severed flesh "was big enough and intact enough for SeaWorld to

retrieve it from the bottom of the pool."

Nakai's father,

Tilikum, was the orca that killed a trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando two

years ago.

"It's hard to tell if they're just playing rough or if these are just

aggressive interactions between individuals," Robert Pitman of the

National Marine Fisheries Service in San Diego told ABCNews.

Photo: YouTube screengrab

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