SeaWorld Euthanizes Its Oldest Killer Whale After Respiratory Issues

SeaWorld Orca Euthanized After Lengthy Illness

A sick orca has been euthanized at SeaWorld in San Diego, California.

One of the last killer whales caught in captivity for SeaWorld was euthanized in San Diego, making her the second orca death at the marine parks in a month.

"SeaWorld talks of "love" for her and her family, yet it made a business out of tearing her away from her family as well as ripping apart other bonded orcas and shipping them across the country, even separating Kasatka from her podmate in 1984", the statement said.

Tilikum's death comes just before SeaWorld's final traditional killer whale show.

Kasatka's health and appetite had significantly declined over the past several days despite continually tailored treatments.

SeaWorld says Kasatka had been battling lung disease in recent years. The exact cause of death has yet to be released by SeaWorld.

Last Orca Born in Captivity Dies
Last Orca Born in Captivity Dies

She was a mother of four, grandmother of six and great grandmother of two, and entertained visitors as often as eight times a day.

In Kasatka's case, veterinarians said she battled a respiratory bacterial infection for several years, but as she aged, it became more hard fending off the lung illness. She had been captured in the wild off the coast of Iceland in 1978. "Although I am heartbroken, I am grateful for the special time we had together. and all we have learned from her". Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment announced early last year that it would immediately stop breeding orcas following years of animal rights protests and declining attendance. "A mother of four, grandmother of six and great grandmother of two, she was considered by the most current research as an older killer whale at almost 42 years old." the parks said. Kasatka was 41. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries says that in the wild, "females typically live about 50 years, but can live as long as 100 years".

The treatment of whales in captivity was brought to global attention with the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which told the story of Tilikum, an orca involved in the deaths of three people. "I have spent the past several years with Kasatka and was truly blessed to be part of her life", said Kristi Burtis, an orca behaviorist at SeaWorld.

Kasatka had been diagnosed with the condition in 2008, the park said.

Meanwhile, PETA has insisted SeaWorld's remaining animals should be moved to seaside sanctuaries in the wake of the death.

The killer whale clan's matriarch leaves behind a family legacy.

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