Death Toll Rises At SeaWorld. Original Baby Shamu, Kalina is 4th Orca Casualty This Year
Sad news out of Orlando this morning as another orca has died in captivity. 25-year-old Kalina, who was dubbed the “Original Baby Shamu” was the first Killer Whale born and raised in captivity at SeaWorld Parks (see a video of her birth below, and an update on the cause of death at the end). The female orca died suddenly after experiencing problems yesterday afternoon. Kalina”s death brings the number of orcas to die in captivity at SeaWorld parks to 4 in just the past 4 months. SeaWorld San Diego lost 12 yr old Sumar in September and the Orlando marine park saw the untimely death of 20-year-old Taima and her stillborn calf in June. Channel 6 News in Orlando reports on this latest tragedy:
“She began exhibiting signs of discomfort Monday afternoon and died suddenly in the evening,” according to a park statement. Kalina has delivered four calves at SeaWorld parks.
Since the tragic death of Dawn Brancheau in February, Kalinas’ death is just the latest in a long line of controversy and heartache coming out of SeaWorld. Last month, Sumar a 12-year-old male orca died at SeaWorld San Diego. Images of his body being lifted from his pool brought shock and sadness to many. From San Diego Union-Tribune: Full Story: Click Here
Some conservationists said SeaWorld’s ill fortune this year underscores long-standing questions about whether large pools at entertainment parks provide a healthy environment for creatures that cruise the world’s oceans:
“Sumar was 12. That is not a long life — not for a wild orca. Was it a happy or fulfilled life? Not from our perspective,” said Courtney Vail, a campaign director for Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, an international nonprofit group.
SeaWorld officials have long rejected such notions, saying they provide top medical care, high-quality food and a stimulating environment for killer whales.
“The loss of Sumar today is not related to him being a whale in a zoological environment like ours,” said David Koontz, a spokesman for SeaWorld San Diego. “There is no other marine-life organization in the world that is more committed to the care of their animals.”
*Click here to see raw video of Sumar while he was being taken out of the medical pool as his longtime friend, Corky, looks on.
One has to question the exceptional care that is being provided by these marine parks given the alarming frequency of premature deaths. In June, Sumar’s mother Taima, who was pregnant with her 4th calf died during childbirth. Her calf did not survive. The LA Times Reports: Full Story: Click Here
Taima, a 20-year-old orca at SeaWorld Orlando, died Sunday at the park while in labor with a stillborn calf. Taima’s calf was fathered by Tilikum, the orca who killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in February. Dr. Chris Dold, SeaWorld’s vice president of veterinary services, told the Orlando Sentinel that the calf was in an unusual position in the birth canal and that Taima’s labor was further complicated by the fact that she delivered the placenta before the calf. “She was not able to deliver the stillborn fetus naturally; SeaWorld’s veterinarians attempted to assist, but her complications were too severe,” the park said in a statement about Taima’s death.
Last month, The Orca Project reported on the possible link between poor oral health of orcas and their early deaths. The condition of Kalina’s teeth does not seem to be an exception. These photos show that she suffered from many of the same teeth afflictions as many other orcas in captivity, alive and dead.
- In the wild, male orcas live an average of 30+ yrs and females 50+ yrs (many can live well into their 80s or 90s) and they do not to suffer the same oral degradation seen in captive orcas.
- In captivity; orcas rarely make it out of their teens and most suffer from extremely poor dentition as we have presented here.
Today’s news is strong evidence which illustrates the cruel and detrimental effects of orcas in confinement. This unnatural environment almost always results in early death. It’s well past time for the marine parks and their fans to rethink how we treat these amazing, intelligent mammals.
Kalina, who was born at SeaWorld Orlando on Sept. 26, 1985, was the first killer whale successfully born in captivity. Watch a video of Kalina’s birth:
Update: Since the article was written we now know Kalina died of Bacterial Septicemia. Translated; it is a systemic inflammatory response to a severe infection. Or in other words, blood poisoning.
Causes of Septicemia include:
•Gall bladder infection
She didn’t die of a Gall Bladder Infection, Appendicitis, or burns. Did she have some (minor) surgical procedure or other wounds SeaWorld didn’t share with the world? Perhaps. But the fact is, she died of a blood infection which leaves only two causes: 1) A partial miscarriage, missed miscarriage or 2) A tooth abscess as the cause of death. Infections of the mouth or teeth, when untreated by antibiotics, cause septicemia. She has had a history of poor oral health that is well documented, many fractured teeth as well as those that were manually drilled. The blood infection was treatable and her death preventable. However, she has most assuredly been treated with antibiotics so often over her lifetime and up to a point where they were ineffective. Antibiotics are rendered useless if they are over used. The same way they are ineffective with humans after prolonged usage.
Does this constitute “superior care” that SeaWorld professes to give? Tell us what you think.