SeaWorld veterinarians will monitor the females for signs of hormonal variance over the next few months and both parks maintain that the breeding program is meant for conservation measures. But critics often contend that zoos and marine parks -- particularly SeaWorld which was valued at $2.7 billion last year -- breed animals because cute babies draw massive crowds and money at the ticket office.
As the AP noted:
If breeding is successful this year, the resulting cubs could become attractive promotional tools that draw more visitors to the Pittsburgh and San Diego facilities.
This isn't the first time the breeding program has been attempted with these bears -- last year, Szenja mated with Koda during a different visit to the Pittsburgh Zoo, though it didn't result in pregnancy.
We've reached out to both SeaWorld and the Pittsburgh Zoo for comment and will update this post when we hear back.
SeaWorld and marine parks profit off keeping orcas and other marine animals in captivity -- despite evidence that captivity not only induces unnatural behaviors in whales, but also endangers trainers. Join us in pledging never to visit SeaWorld or other marine parks until they empty their orca tanks.