SeaWorld’s 20-year-old killer whale dies from infection

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A 20-year-old killer whale that had been at SeaWorld San Diego since birth has died following treatment for an infection, park officials said.

Despite efforts to treat the unspecified infection, the orca, Nakai, died Thursday, SeaWorld San Diego said in a statement.

“All attempts were made to save (Nakai’s) life,” the statement said. “Veterinarians and health care specialists had actively treated an infection, but aggressive therapeutic and diagnostic efforts failed.”

Nakai’s death leaves SeaWorld with eight remaining killer whales, ranging in age from 9 to 57, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The marine park is unable to increase its orca population after instituting a breeding ban in 2016, following years of pressure from animal rights protests and shifting public opinion on orcas held in captivity, the newspaper said.

SeaWorld’s statement said Nakai will “be remembered as an inquisitive and quick learner, often picking up behaviors simply by observing other whales in his pod.”

Nakai, who was born in September 2001, is the second orca in the park to die last year. Amaya, a 6-year-old woman, died on August 20, 2021. Prior to that, the most recent death was that of Kasatka, a 42-year-old woman who died of lung disease in August 2017.

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