A killer whale at San Diego's SeaWorld is on the mend after sustaining a jaw injury during a performance.
But animal rights protesters say his wounds are symptomatic of greater abuses.
The 11-year-old Killer whale named Nakai was treated for a lower jaw injury that he suffered when he made contact with the pool, according to SeaWorld.
Photos obtained by writer Tim Zimmermann showed the injured whale with the large gash on his jaw. SeaWorld has confirmed to NBC 7 San Diego that the photos are of Nakai.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) held a protest at SeaWorld Wednesday, claiming the whale got into a fight with other whales. The organization filed a complaint against SeaWorld for housing whales together that are incompatible.
A statement from last week claimed Nakai was swimming comfortably with the other whales at the park and was being treated by animal care technicians.
On Wednesday, SeaWorld spokesman Dave Koontz said the wound was continuing to heal and the tissue is growing back.
Koontz said there is no better place for animals than the park, and the care there "exceeds standards set by the Animal Welfare Act."
"The real advocates for animals are the trainers, aviculturists, animal care staff and veterinarians at SeaWorld," he said.
Protesters Wednesday say that SeaWorld continually takes animals out of their habitats and forces them to perform in an unnatural setting.
Koontz later responded and said Nikai was born at SeaWorld in 2001 and never lived in the wild. He said SeaWorld hasn't taken an animal out of its natural habitat and trained it to perform since the 80s.