Kayla the killer whale, which was one of the last remaining orcas at SeaWorld, died on Monday at 30 years old after unexpectedly falling ill.
The whale was born in captivity and spent her whole life at SeaWorld. She was one of the six orcas at the Orlando Park. Orlando Weekly revealed that Kayla was the first killer whale to be born in captivity in 1988, at SeaWorld San Antonio. Later she was moved to SeaWorld Ohio in 1991, now closed, before finally being moved in Orlando, in 2006.
SeaWorld previously announced they have ended their scandalous breeding program in 2016, and now the park has only 20 killer whales at three of its locations.
Kayla was part of the “Killer Whale Up Close Tour” that was held recently at SeaWorld Orlando.
Officials at SeaWorld don’t know what caused Kayla’s sudden death yet, but will know more after a post-mortem exam.
On Saturday veterinarians performed a physical exam after the whale showed signs of discomfort, and after being monitored and cared for, Kayla passed away on Sunday in the presence of an animal care specialist.
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The statement which was released by the company with respect to the whale’s death, read:
Her veterinarians immediately began treatment based on a physical examination. Unfortunately, her condition worsened on Sunday. Although animal care specialists and veterinarians devoted around the clock attention to Kayla, she did not survive.
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.
While the average life span of a killer whale in the wild is 50 to 80 years, according to National Geographic, Kayla passed away at just 30 years old.
Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine-mammal scientist, revealed for Orlando Sentinel that Kayla was in the “prime of her life,” adding:
That’s like literally being a 30-year-old woman. Dying at 30 is not normal.
PETA also took to their official Twitter account to write about the whale’s passing, saying:
Kayla, an orca trapped at #SeaWorld her entire life, has DIED in a tank at the #Orlando abusement park. She never got to swim in the ocean.
Kayla was forced to move around the country from park to park & heartbreakingly lost babies over the years.
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Other people also took to social media to react over Kayla’s death, writing about the fact that she spent her whole life in captivity.
RIP Kayla. #SeaWorld Orca Kayla has died. She was 30. She never should have lived her entire short life in a cage. In the wild she could have lived to be a 100. Free. RT to have @SeaWorld stop whale and dolphin shows.
Kayla was forced to move around the country from park to park & heartbreakingly lost babies over the years 💔 pic.twitter.com/DClMYXJmKg
— PETA (@peta) January 28, 2019
Another whale dies in captivity @ #SeaWorld Orlando #kayla just 30yrs pushed around from Texas, Ohio, Texas, Orlando. Lost a calf, this was no way to live for this beautiful creature! As just a money making commodity 😥💔 #RipKayla #EmptyTheTanks #captivitykills #dontbuyaticket
— Maggie Bartsch (@maggie_bartsch) January 28, 2019
RIP Kayla. #SeaWorld Orca Kayla has died. She was 30. She never should have lived her entire short life in a cage. In the wild she could have lived to be a 100. Free. RT to have @SeaWorld stop whale and dolphin shows. #BoycottSeaWorld. pic.twitter.com/FawKueJG3A
— Daniel Schneider (@BiologistDan) January 28, 2019
Officials at SeaWorld are now reportedly closely monitoring the five remainig whales at the park as they believe other orcas will be affected by Kayla’s passing. Hopefully, the remaining orcas will have a healthy life ahead.
You will be missed, Kayla! Rest in peace!