Michael Mullenniex 1:43 p.m., May 25
Bug mutilates whale
Plush Toy Designer's Programming Glitch Leads to Creation of 3.2 Million Defective Whale Souvenirs for Sea World; Company Decides to "Alter" Killer Whale Nakai to Fit Product
"What were we gonna do, throw out 3 million stuffed animals?"
Sea World staff say the gruesome wound is healing "in line with expectations and requirements."
DISAPPOINTED IT WASN'T FROM A TRIAL RUN OF LONG-AWAITED "SHAMU VS." WHALE-FIGHT EXHIBIT, SEA WORLD - At first, Sea World officials suggested that the missing chunk of flesh on killer whale Nakai's lower jaw, first spotted in late September, was the result of a collision with a pool barrier. Then a member of PETA suggested that the wound may have arisen from a fight, noting that Nakai is "20% blacker than the other whales in held in captivity at Sea World, and may have been subjected to a form of sea-mammal 'prison hazing.'"
But both theories were quickly dismissed, due to the clean lines along the edge of the wound. Deborah Giles of the UC Davis Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology said that, "To me if it was a sheering sort of thing...It's more possible in my mind that this injury occurred when the whale may have been going between pools, and come in contact with, not concrete, but something metal."
SD on the QT has been on the case ever since the injury first came to light, and it turns out that Giles' suspicion was correct. Nakai did indeed come in contact with something metal - a Sea World animal care expert's surgical saw. Emails obtained by our reporters between Sea World executives and the administration of the Gund-brand stuffed animal factory in Xienxiao, China that makes the plush killer whales sold at the park's ubiquitous gift shops reveal the grisly circumstances.
"Coding error discovered on computer design progam for unit XB1298 'Nakai,'" reads one exchange. "Curvature of jawline reversed at tip - see attached photo. 3.214 million units produced during 24 hours before error detected. Please advise." The chilling reply from Sea World: "Rectification and restart deemed financially impracticable. Proceed with production and shipment. Will make necessary adjustments at our end. Send us faulty coder so we can feed him to whale as compensation."
As of press time, it is unclear whether the final line of the email was a joke.
Reached for comment, Sea World spokeswoman Brenda Nile was quick to note that "Sea World has just announced plans for an exciting new entrance area!"