SeaWorld Draws Ire of Animal Rights Activists After Captive Orca Sustains Whale of an Injury [Warning: Graphic]

Upsetting photos have surfaced showing in great detail the extent of a severe laceration sustained recently by an 11-year-old male orca at SeaWorld San Diego.

SeaWorld Draws Ire of Animal Rights Activists After Captive Orca Sustains Whale of an Injury [Warning: Graphic]

Park officials claim the jaw wound was caused by an unfortunate run-in with a pool barrier, but at least one report from a whistleblower claims Nakai, son of the infamous Tilikum, was trying to jump over the chains put up by SeaWorld, and ripped a "dinner plate"-sized chunk of tissue from his mandible.

Some orca experts, including Dr. Ingrid N. Visser of the Orca Research Trust, believe the injury was caused by an altercation with two incompatible orcas, as evidenced by "puncture marks that match orca teeth spacing."

As a result, PETA has released a statement saying SeaWorld has violated the Animal Welfare Act, which requires that incompatible marine mammals "not be housed in the same enclosure."

"SeaWorld parks have a long history of housing incompatible orcas from widely divergent groups together in enclosures," PETA writes in its statement, "and the result has been stress, agitation, aggressive and bloody raking, serious injury, and death."

A protest of the park is planned for this Wednesday.

[H/T: LAist, photos via PETA]