Why hasn't Seaworld closed yet?
Last Sea World orca born in captivity to die
The last orca to be born in captivity as part of Sea World's controversial breeding program died on Monday at the San Antonio site.
It is a three-month-old calf that was given birth to a female orca named Takara in April.
According to a park press release, Kyara died after complications from an infection that had worsened in the days before her death.
During the past few days, the calf has been under surveillance around the clock. Sea World vets treated the animal with antibiotics and antimicrobials, and even tried hand-feeding it.
A total of 22 killer whales remain in Sea World parks Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego. The youngest remaining whale is Amaya, who was born in December 2014.
The exact cause of Kyara's death can only be determined after a full autopsy. The park employees believe pneumonia was the cause. Bacterial pneumonia also resulted in the death of 36-year-old orca Tilikum, who died in February last year.
Tilikum was perhaps the park's most famous orca: he killed a trainer in 2010 and was implicated in two other deaths in the 1990s. The killer whale became even more famous after being featured in the 2013 documentary "Blackfish," which shed light on the park's practices.
In 2016, Tim Zimmermann, who also co-wrote the script for the documentary, wrote in an article for National Geographic that Tilikum suffered from boredom, the confinement of the tank, chronic illness and aggression from other orcas in the park and the trainers.
According to research by San Antonio Express-News in 2016, infection was the cause of death in 60 percent of all orca deaths in Sea World parks. The report also stated that eight whales and dolphins had died in San Antonio Park in the past two years. In addition, a total of 150 animals died from infections at all three locations in the last 30 years.
In its press release, Sea World claims that Kyara's infection did not result from the fact that she was held in captivity. The park continues to keep the remaining orcas under observation. So far, however, no signs of illness have been detected in them.
After a wave of public protests, Sea World officially ended its breeding program in March 2016 and, according to its own statement, announced a “new direction for the company”.
The remaining killer whales in Sea World were either born in captivity or came to the parks when they were very young. For this reason, Sea World decided in 2016 to keep the animals in the parks, as it is believed that they could not survive in the wild.
In addition to the wave of protests, Sea World is also facing legal challenges. In 2016 a law was passed in California that prohibits the breeding of orcas in captivity, which is likely to have medium-term consequences for the orca shows in the park. In California, the shows are therefore gradually being discontinued. However, they are still performed in Orlando and San Antonio.
The World Conservation Union monitors the population status of orcas around the world as closely as possible. However, since the animals have such a wide range and their population sizes vary, they could not be assigned a hazard level. After humans, orcas are considered to be the most widespread mammal in the world.
The decline in prey and increasing pollution have emerged as the two greatest threats to wildlife in the wild.
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