TODAY   |  October 02, 2012

Orca whale injured at SeaWorld sparks concern

Photos taken by a tourist at SeaWorld in San Diego showing an orca whale with a deep gash inspired PETA to file a complaint with federal regulators against SeaWorld for housing orcas together that are incompatible. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> begin this half hour with a killer whale injured during a performance at seaworld san diego . now a group of animal rights activists are demanding to know what happened.

>> reporter: david, good morning. killer whales have also been a major attraction here, but now it's an injury to one of those whales that has peta filing a federal complaint with the usda. the pictures are hard to look at, according to peta. these photos were taken by a tourist on september 27th and show a deep penetrating gash on an 11-year-old orca whale at seaworld san diego . citing other pictures taken by a scientist this weekend peta claims the whale was hurt after an altercation with other whales and has filed a complaint with federal regulators against seaworld for housing orcas together that are incompatible.

>> in the wild, orcas choose theropod members. they swim with their family n.captivity they are kept in such tight confinement they are forced to be with other animals they don't get along, so we understand from former trainer and whistle-blowers that acts of aggression are common.

>> reporter: despite the large gash, seaworld says that the whale was treated right away by a park veterinarian after the incident on september 20th and is recovering with new tissue growing in. the park declined our requests for an interview but did release video of the whale swimming and eating at shamu stadium on monday. in a statement seaworld suggests the incident did not involve an altercation with other whales saying, quote, it is believed nakai 's injury occurred when he came into contact with a portion of the pool environment. immediately prior to nakai sustaining the injury, he and two other whales were engaged in normal social behavior . the theme park 's orca program has come under fire before. in 2010 a trainer was killed by nakai 's father tilikum at seaworld , orlando offer the orca dragged her by her hair into the matter by her pony tail in front of spectators. federal regulators have band seaworld trainers from entering the water and seaworld says it has improved safety procedures.

>> they swim in endless circles in chemically treated water for dead fish all for the entertainment of tourists and it's cruelty.

>> reporter: seaworld says it treats the whales with utmost care and in its statement adds there is no organization in the world more committed to the physical, social and mental welfare of its animals than seaworld . despite that statement released by seaworld , peta says they will be here to protest at the park tomorrow. david?

>> all right. miguel almaguer, thank