INTRO: Baby killer whale caught in tug of love in Mexico.
STORY: A young killer whale found bleeding on a Mexican beach has become the centre of an international controversy over whether she should stay in Mexico or be sent to a U.S. marine theme park.
Mexican aquarium workers have been feeding the baby - Pascuala – around the clock with milk from a tube inserted in her mouth since she was found beached in a Pacific fishing village in April.。
Paola Svolensky, a veterinarian at the Vallarta Adventure Aquarium, is unsure whether the whale will make a full recovery. "Well is very difficult to know for sure, we are estimating that if the whale survives for six initial months, it would have better changes, now is very soon to tell. Pascuala has been here with us for one month and a week and is almost a newborn, we think she is one month and 10 days old, but is very difficult to know. She is eating well and gaining weight," she said.
Pascuala is just over a month old and weighs 403 pounds (183 kilograms). She is still recovering from injuries, but if she survives, the aquarium's owners want to send her to the Sea World park in San Diego, California. Sea World said it would be happy to accept Pascuala, where she could learn from the park's seven existing orcas. Those killer whales live in a 7 million gallon (26.5 million litre) tank and perform tricks for legions of visitors.
But some environmentalists oppose transferring Pascuala to Sea World, however, because it could set a precedent that might enable animal traffickers to export more killer whales, also known as orcas. The Mexican government's environmental protection agency has so far blocked a transfer to San Diego, saying Mexico's wildlife should not leave the country.
If Mexico refuses the transfer to Sea World, Pascuala could be released into the ocean. But experts say successful reintroduction would be difficult for an animal raised with human contact and being fed by hand. Scientists would have to find Pascuala's family and hope it would accept her.