Ed Bedford 11:58 p.m., May 20
SeaWorld Retrieves Killer Whale from Canada
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting this morning that a nine-year-old killer whale in disputed custody was hastily flown to SeaWorld here Saturday evening after the big marine park operator prevailed in U.S. federal court over Niagara Falls, Ontario-based Marineland.
Named "Ikaika," or "Ike" for short, the whale had been loaned to Marineland five years ago in a breeding exchange in which SeaWorld got four beluga whales, according to the account.
The Canadian operation subsequently attempted to keep the animal after SeaWorld moved to cancel a continuation of the contract, but a judge found that there was no legal basis for the park to keep the whale since Canadian courts had already ruled in SeaWorld's favor.
"There is no evidence to suggest that the Canadian court system lacks jurisdiction to hear this case," U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell of Orlando concluded in a Friday ruling.
Said the newspaper account: "The transfer began Saturday evening, when Ike was lifted out of his pool at Marineland and into a waiting transport truck.
"A witness to the procession as it drove toward an airport in Hamilton, Ontario, told the Toronto Star that it included at least 14 police cruisers with lights flashing, two transport trucks and a crane. The animal was subsequently flown in a cargo plane to California."
"He was in the water in San Diego early Sunday morning," SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs reportedly said earlier today. "Everything went great."
There was no word on the size of the police escort in San Diego.
Ike is replace to Sumar, the 12-year-old male killer whale who died here last year.