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Kawili Kai, born to a female wholphin by a male dolphin, at 9 months of age in September 2005

A wholphin or wolphin is an extremely rare hybrid born from a mating of a female bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) with a male false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens). The name implies a hybrid of whale and dolphin, although taxonomically, both are within the "oceanic dolphin" family, which is within the "toothed whale" suborder.[1][2] The first recorded wholphin was born in a Tokyo SeaWorld, but he died after 200 days.[3] The first wholphin in the United States and the first to survive was Kekaimalu, born at Sea Life Park in Hawaii on May 15, 1986; her name means "from the peaceful ocean".[3] Although they have been reported to exist in the wild,[2] only one is currently in captivity, at Sea Life Park in Hawaii.[1]

Kekaimalu proved fertile when she gave birth at a very young age. The calf died after a few days. However, in 1991, Kekaimalu gave birth once again, to daughter Pohaikealoha. For two years, she cared for the calf, but did not nurse it; it was hand-reared by trainers. Pohaikealoha died at age 9. On December 23, 2004, Kekaimalu had her third calf, daughter Kawili Kai, sired by a male bottlenose. This calf did nurse and was very playful. Only months after birth, it was the size of a one-year-old bottlenose dolphin.[1] All three calves were three-quarters bottlenose dolphin and one-quarter false killer whale.[4] Both Kekaimalu and Kawili Kai remain in captivity, and are now part of the normal tour at Sea Life Park.

In one episode of the show The Million Pound Drop Live, a team was asked which hybrid did not exist: a wholphin, a zorse, a liger, and a sheepig; they bet £550,000 on the wholphin and £150,000 on the sheepig.[5] As the wholphin was real, they lost £550k of their money but later said that Mangalitsas are commonly referred to as sheepigs.[5]

Family tree[edit]

Family tree:

I'anui Hahai (FKW) ♂
Punahele (dolphin) ♀
Kekaimalu ♀
dolphin ♂
Unnamed calf
Pohaikealoha ♀
Kawili Kai ♀


  1. ^ a b c Sean B. Carroll (September 13, 2010). "Remarkable creatures". New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2010. "The first captive wholphin, Kekaimalu, was born on May 15, 1985, to a female bottlenose dolphin named Punahele, who shared a pool with a male false killer whale named Tanui Hahai. The wholphin's size, color and shape are intermediate between the parent species. She has 66 teeth - intermediate between a bottlenose (88 teeth) and false killer whale (44 teeth)" 
  2. ^ a b "Whale-dolphin hybrid has baby wholphin". MSNBC. April 15, 2005. Retrieved November 12, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b West, Karen (May 18, 1986). "A Whale? A Dolphin? Yes, It's A Wholphin". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  4. ^ (subscription required) "Ditching SUVs and Breeding Beefalos". E Magazine (Earth Action Network) 17 (1): 64. January-February 2006. Retrieved May 4, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Davina McCall's £550k pig of a row". The Sun. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 

External links[edit]