Three times each day, a team of animal experts at SeaWorld Orlando perform hands-on, physical therapy on a once-stranded pilot whale. "300" has scoliosis, or a curvature of the spine.
In early May, a pod of 23 pilot whales stranded near Cudjoe Key in the lower Florida Keys. Two female whales, Fredi and "300", were among the only four survivors. Approximately 5 weeks after her rescue, the curvature developed, creating a sharp angle in the whale's spine that prevents "300" from swimming normally.
The physical therapy includes stretching the whale's muscles and working her tail fluke up and down. SeaWorld animal experts have determined the muscular curvature is severe and multiple levels of assessment are being conducted to determine the whale's quality of life. It's hoped that the therapy sessions will help her to regain proper use of her tail.
While it's too early to tell if "300" is making significant progress, her quality of life will remain a primary motivator in her treatment. It could be months before the whale can swim in a more ordinary fashion. Deemed unable to be released by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the 12-foot-long whale will permanently stay at SeaWorld Orlando.
SeaWorld's marine animal rescue team is on call 24/7 to rescue injured, orphaned, and ill marine animals including birds, whales, dolphins, and manatees. More than 18,000 animals have been cared for since the parks' programs began more than 45 years ago. More information can be found at www.seaworldcares.com.