Injured Orca "Nakai"

Injured Orca "Nakai" (Ingrid N. Visser, Ph.D./Orca Research Trust)

SAN DIEGO -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to stage a demonstration at SeaWorld San Diego Wednesday to protest the park's whale- management policies following an incident that left an 11-year-old killer whale with a gaping lower-jaw injury.

According to SeaWorld, the male orca named Nakai was injured during a nighttime performance Sept. 20 while engaging in normal social behavior with other whales.

PETA, however, contends in its blog, the "PETA Files,'' that a whistleblower said Nakai was attacked by two other orcas, Keet and Ikaika.

It also quoted Ingrid N. Visser, founder and principal scientist of the Orca Research Trust, as saying that photographs of the injury show puncture marks consistent with the spacing of orca teeth.

In a complaint to the U.S. Agriculture Department, PETA said it wants SeaWorld disciplined for not keeping the whales separated as required under the Animal Welfare Act.

According to PETA, the law requires incompatible marine mammals to be kept in separate enclosures.

In response, Dave Koontz of SeaWorld San Diego said the well-being of animals at the park is "paramount'' and stewardship of the animals at SeaWorld is taken very seriously.