SAN ANTONIO (KXAN) — Now more than 350 pounds, Kenai is ready for his debut next month at SeaWorld San Antonio.
The male beluga whale calf was 155 pounds when he was born and remains healthy as he nurses from his mother, Luna, the park said.
Named after the Kenai Peninsula and the Kenai Fjords in Alaska, the calf has been busy growing over the past few months and building a strong relationship with the animal care staff.
Kenai will nurse from and be cared for by his mom for the first two years of his life, before becoming independent. Once weaned, SeaWorld says his diet will consist of fish and mollusks.
The team taking care of Kenai says he is a very curious beluga who enjoys playing and interacting with trainers. “Let’s face it, he loves playing with toys!” the park said. They say he is developing relationships with other belugas at SeaWorld San Antonio and spends time with his brother, 3-year-old Samson, as well as the female beluga whales.
SeaWorld San Antonio opens on weekends starting Feb. 25.
In November 2015, Stella, a 2-year-old female beluga with apparent stomach trouble, died at the park. Just four months before, a newborn beluga whale born prematurely at the park died, despite what officials called around-the-clock care by park staff.
Last month, SeaWorld announced they were cutting 320 jobs across its 12-park company, with 11 people losing their jobs at the San Antonio location.
SeaWorld’s attendance and revenue have suffered in the face of a campaign by animal rights activists. Earlier in 2016, the company announced it was ending its orca breeding program and stopping its traditional killer whale shows.