A 30-year-old orca has died at SeaWorld’s Orlando Park in Florida.
The orca, named Kayla, died on Monday after a brief illness, SeaWorld officials said.
Veterinarians began treating Kayla on Saturday, following a physical exam, after she showed signs of discomfort. Her condition worsened Sunday and she was given around-the-clock care until her death, park officials said.
The cause of death will not be known until a post-mortem examination is conducted.
Kayla was one of the last remaining orcas at SeaWorld’s Orlando park after the company announced in 2016 that it was stopping its orca breeding programme.
In a statement, SeaWorld officials said: “The entire SeaWorld family is deeply saddened by the loss. While today is a difficult day for all of us at SeaWorld, Kayla inspired generations of guests and employees to care and learn more about this amazing species.”
SeaWorld’s orca shows came under criticism following the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which depicted orca Tilikum’s life in captivity. Before his death in 2017, Tilikum was involved in the deaths of three people, including SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau.
In 2017, the company ended orca shows in California, with plans to phase out the shows at parks in Florida and Texas in 2019.
We suggest that the SeaWorld statement should have been:
“The entire SeaWorld family is deeply saddened by the fact that we will not be making money out of animals that belong in the oceans performing stupid tricks in our undersized tanks instead. Today is a difficult day for all of us at SeaWorld due to the loss of future funds from members of the public who have still not got a grip that animals should not be doing pathetic tricks to satisfy their dismal demands to be ‘entertained’ by animal abuse. Kayla inspired generations of guests and employees who simply ignored the fact that wild animals belong in the wild, not bathtubs such as those at SeaWorld.”