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NUEVO VALLARTA, Mexico -- A newborn killer whale found bleeding on a Mexican beach has become the center of an international controversy over whether she should stay in Mexico or be sent to a US marine theme park.
Mexican aquarium workers have been feeding the baby named 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.
Pascuala, just over a month old and weighing 183 kg, is still recovering, but if she survives, the aquarium's owners want to send her to the Sea World park in San Diego, California.
Her caretakers say there is no tank in Mexico big enough to keep her when she grows and she will die if put back in the sea or kept in an aquarium that is too small for her. 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.
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 tank and perform tricks for legions of visitors.