SAN ANTONIO -

A killer whale was born early Thursday morning at SeaWorld San Antonio.

Takara, a 22-year-old killer whale, gave birth to her 7-foot-long female calf at 12:08 a.m.

The yet-to-be-named calf is the 29th killer whale born in SeaWorld's history and joins five other killer whales that reside at the San Antonio park.

Immediately after birth, the baby whale instinctively swam to the surface of the water for its first breath of air. SeaWorld veterinarians and animal care specialists who have devoted the last several weeks to 24-hour watch of the expectant mother, were on hand to witness the birth.

"We're delighted to welcome the newest Baby Shamu to our killer whale family," said Chris Bellows, SeaWorld San Antonio vice president of zoological operations. "Successful births like this are further evidence that SeaWorld parks have created healthy, enriching habitats for these animals."

This is the fourth calf born to Takara, a 16-foot-long, 5,000-pound killer whale. SeaWorld animal care specialists are cautiously optimistic about the progress of the baby and her mother.

"The mom and baby appear to be doing very well, and we're hopeful that this is a strong and healthy calf," Bellows said. "As with any newborn, the first few days are critical. We're looking forward to the continued bonding of mom and calf, and the baby beginning to nurse."