Three months ago, SeaWorld welcomed the last baby killer whale that would ever be born from the park’s captive breeding program. Her name was Kyara, and she was already in her mother Takara’s womb when SeaWorld announced they intended to end their captive breeding program, likely in response to the backlash of protests that erupted after the release of the 2013 documentary "Blackfish."
Last Monday, at SeaWorld San Antonio, Kyara died, PBS News Hour reports.
The park stated that pneumonia was the most likely cause of death, though veterinarians will be conducting a post-mortem exam to ascertain the cause of death. The little whale was suffering from a serious case of pneumonia, according to a SeaWorld press release that came out the day after Kyara’s death.
The press release noted that Takara and the rest of the orca pod at SeaWorld are healthy.
In the press release, Kyara’s trainer Julie spoke about the experience she had caring for Kyara:
“Kyara had a tremendous impact on each of her care staff, not to mention all of the guests that had the chance to see her. From late nights to early morning, rain or shine, we dedicate our lives to these animals, and this loss will be felt throughout the entire SeaWorld family."
Now SeaWorld San Antonio has just 22 orcas left, with 2-year-old Amaya becoming once again the youngest member of the pod.
In February, SeaWorld lost their most famous inhabitant, Tilikum, the infamous star of "Blackfish" and the whale responsible for the death of his trainer, Dawn Brancheau, and two other people. Tilikum also died of pneumonia, though suffered from a host of other ailments, including chronic disease, aggression and boredom, National Geographic reports.
In response to Kyara’s death, the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States released a statement:
“We’ve believed all along that this kind of environment is not ideal for these animals. We will continue talking with SeaWorld about ways to allow the remaining orcas to do their best in the years ahead.”