SeaWorld's Dead Killer Whale Is 3rd in 6 Months

Activists fear stress led to 18-year-old killer whale's death
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2015 8:57 AM CST
3rd Whale in 6 Months Dies at SeaWorld
In this Nov. 30, 2006, file photo, a young girl watches through the glass as a killer whale passes at SeaWorld, in San Diego.   (AP Photo/Chris Park, File)

SeaWorld San Antonio has seen its third whale death in six months with the passing of Unna, an 18-year-old killer whale suffering from a fungal infection. The whale, who died Monday, had been undergoing treatment for a pathogen, Candida, in her bladder for months and was under "constant care," the park says, per the San Antonio Express-News. A necropsy will determine the cause of death. Female killer whales typically live 30 to 50 years; a killer whale hasn't died of Candida at SeaWorld for some 25 years, reports the Washington Post. However, a 2-year-old beluga whale suffering from gastrointestinal issues died at the park last month, four months after the death of a baby beluga born prematurely.

"After a review of each of these cases, none of the issues were related to each other, or to the care that the animals received," the park says, adding, "We have no evidence that Unna was stressed from her environment." Animal rights activists are skeptical. While Candida occurs both in wild and captive whale populations, they say stresses of life in captivity—including dehydration, cramped quarters, and abnormal diet—could hurt a whale's ability to fight an infection, per Gawker. SeaWorld's website notes Unna received medication never before used on killer whales, as part of a plan developed by veterinarians and experts, because she didn't respond to conventional treatments. The park canceled all whale shows on Monday. (More SeaWorld stories.)

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