Takara, a 25-year-old female orca, gave birth to the calf after an 18-month pregnancy, the company announced Wednesday, April 20, 2017 . The birth occurred about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the company’s San Antonio park.
SeaWorld Entertainment’s last killer whale born in captivity, Kyara, died Monday after the 3-month-old calf lost a battle with a critical infection over the weekend, SeaWorld San Antonio announced.
“Despite (the staff’s) best efforts, her health continued to decline and she passed away earlier today,” SeaWorld San Antonio announced on its blog Monday.
Kyara was born to much fanfare April 19 after an 18-month pregnancy to Takara, a 25-year-old female orca. Takara was already pregnant when SeaWorld announced last year it was ending its orca breeding program in March.
“The team’s attention now turns to the rest of the orca pod, especially Takara, to provide the care and attention they need,” SeaWorld said in its announcement.
SeaWorld announced Saturday that Kyara was showing possible signs of pneumonia, “one of the most common causes of illness or morbidity in whales and dolphins,” according to its Facebook page. “The first several months for whale and dolphin calves are especially critical, and we are taking every precaution, including treating her at the animal hospital at SeaWorld San Antonio.”
The Express-News wrote an in-depth look at mammal deaths in May 2016 after eight dolphins, whales and sea lions died over the previous two years at the San Antonio park.
Officials have not confirmed Kyara's cause of death but believe she likely had pneumonia, SeaWorld said. None of the other orcas at the San Antonio park have shown signs of infection, according to the company.
The deaths of almost 150 sea lions, beluga whales, orcas and other dolphins at SeaWorld’s three parks have been caused by infections over the last 30 years, the Express-News investigation found.
Infections have been responsible for 60 percent of the deaths of orcas at the three parks and 55 percent for bottlenose and Pacific white-sided dolphins. Tilikum — the orca who killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 and the main subject of the 2013 documentary film “Blackfish” — died of a bacterial infection in January.
More than two dozen orcas will live in the Orlando-based theme park operator's parks including five in San Antonio. Takara has four living children, two of which live at the San Antonio park.
SeaWorld has been working to revamp orca performances in the parks’ programming, emphasizing natural and educational encounters instead of the flashier entertainment the company is known for.
In June, SeaWorld disclosed that it received subpoenas from the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission looking at what executives said publicly about “Blackfish” as well as stock sales on or before August 2014.