Kayla, a 30-year-old female orca, has died Monday, according to a statement from SeaWorld.
Prior to her death, Kayla was the second-oldest whale ever born in captivity. She first showed signs of not feeling well on Saturday, January 26.
“Her veterinarians immediately began treatment based on a physical examination” on Saturday, SeaWorld said. “Unfortunately, her condition worsened through the next two days. Although animal care specialists and veterinarians devoted around the clock attention to Kayla, she did not survive.”
Results of a postmortem exam to determine Kayla’s cause of death could take several weeks.
For an orca, “30 is prime of life,” said Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine-mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute.
“That’s like literally being a 30-year-old woman. Dying at 30 is not normal,” Rose said, pointing out orcas in the wild have been known to live up to 80 or 90 years.
The Orlando park said Kayla “inspired generations of guests and employees to care and learn” about the species, adding that employees were “deeply saddened” by the loss.
SeaWorld has 20 orcas left at its parks. There are five in Orlando, five in San Antonio, and 10 in San Diego.