Theme Park Still Unable To Bring Whale From Argentina

AURORA, Ohio (AP) - The Argentine government is denying Six Flags Worlds of Adventure's permit for a whale, a newspaper reported.

The plan was for Kshamenk, a male orca, to come to the Six Flags theme park in northeast Ohio from Buenos Aires to breed with Shouka, a female whale that the park acquired in May.

Victoria Lichtschein, director of wildlife for the Argentine government, told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer in an e-mail that the permit was denied because the application presented no proof as to how Kshamenk was captured.

The 10-year-old whale was acquired by an aquarium in Buenos Aires in 1992.

The Argentine government has suspended export of wild mammals unless the specimen was captive-bred or the species declared a pest by the national or provincial governments, Lichtschein said.

Six Flags spokeswoman Shannon Pak said park officials have not received formal notification that the permit was denied.

Six Flags started proceedings in October to acquire Kshamenk and Shouka to replace whales taken by Sea World when Six Flags bought the marine park in January 2001. Six Flags officials hoped to have the two whales at Six Flags by the May opening of the 2002 season.

Shouka, with documentation that she was born in captivity in France, had a smoother move to the United States. The 8-year-old whale arrived in May and is performing at the park.

Last week, the Humane Society of the United States and several animal-rights groups filed a complaint in federal court claiming the U.S. government improperly issued a permit allowing Kshamenk to be imported.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)