Another Suffering Orca Has Died at SeaWorld

The death toll at SeaWorld continues to grow with the loss of another orca who battled chronic health issues. But it isn’t the whale’s death that’s the real tragedy — it’s the life she was forced to live.

SeaWorld made the announcement that Kasatka, the park’s matriarch, was euthanized in San Diego this week. According to SeaWorld, her health and appetite had declined over the past several days. Despite treatment, the veterinary team decided to end her life to prevent further suffering.

Sadly, Kasatka’s death doesn’t come as a surprise to those who have been monitoring her over the years.

SeaWorld acknowledged that the orca had been battling a respiratory infection that she was diagnosed with in 2008. but many wildlife advocates believe her situation was far worse than the park has admitted.

Former SeaWorld trainers now running Voice of the Orcas stated, “The reality is that Kasatka is being eaten away, possibly by a bacteria, fungus or photo-toxicity due to antibiotic overuse.”

Few images released show the toll her illness took on her body. While SeaWorld maintains that Kasatka’s illness is a common cause of death for both wild and captive orcas, that claim is also being rejected by experts.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation also points to research that contradicts that statement, adding that there is “little evidence to suggest that pneumonia is the leading cause of death of wild orcas.”

Still, the disease that ultimately took Kasatka’s life — and the misinformation SeaWorld continues to spread about orcas — is only a part of the story.

While SeaWorld called the whale the “beloved matriarch of our orca family,” the reality is that she was stolen, confined for more than four decades, forced to perform and bred multiple times.

Kasatka was taken from her native waters in Iceland in 1978, and she spent the rest of her life imprisoned. She had four children in captivity, Takara, Nakai, Kalia and Makani; six grandchildren, Kohana, Trua, Sakari, Kamea and Kyara; and two great grandchildren Adan and Victoria, who have all been split up at various parks in California, Texas, Florida and Spain.

Meanwhile, SeaWorld conveniently fails to mention that her granddaughter Kyara and great granddaughter Victoria are both dead too — neither of them even reached their first birthdays.

Had Kasatka been left in the wild, she would only be middle-aged now and may have enjoyed life as a true matriarch, nurturing lifelong bonds with her family members. But, sadly, she was denied that opportunity.

In addition to suffering from health problems, Kasatka also displayed the emotional toll confinement took on her. Unsurprisingly, she was involved in multiple aggressive incidents with trainer Ken Peters, who is lucky to be alive.

Kasatka’s story is ultimately a tragic waste of a beautiful life — and for nothing more than our fleeting amusement and financial gain. Her death now leaves 22 orcas captive in the U.S., including 21 at SeaWorld parks, and Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium.

One by one, these whales will continue to pass. And while we can’t undo the injustices they’ve endured in the past, we can ensure no other marine mammals suffer in the future.

Even though SeaWorld has made a corporate promise to stop breeding, many animal activists are working to make sure the company can’t go back on its word. Whale and dolphin advocates are pushing for lawmakers to pass the Florida Orca Protection Act and urging Congress to pass the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act – landmark legislation that would permanently ban keeping orcas in captivity in the U.S.

Hopefully theses efforts will be successful, and we will have a future where orcas receive protection in the wild — where they belong.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

153 comments

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla8 days ago

I cannot this place is still open, just outrageous!

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H13 days ago

When will enough be enough. Shut down the death trap.

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Margie FOURIE
Margie F19 days ago

Horrible.

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Tanya W
Tanya Wabout a month ago

Set all captive whales 🐳 free

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Tanya W
Tanya Wabout a month ago

Sadly noted

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Elisa F
Elisa Fabout a month ago

Senseless & Sad :(

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Miss D
Miss Dabout a month ago

The suffering of the dead whales mentioned in the article is over but the suffering of those still left in captivity is will only continue whilst they are forcibly kept in their tanks. But the female orca mentioned in the article, Lolita, actually has a release plan drawn up for her already. It takes everything into account including teaching her to hunt again, dive again and get used to the currents and open water again. There are adults still left in Lolita’s family who were alive at the time of her capture and would recognise her. Lolita still calls out to them in a unique orca dialect that only her family fully understands. Lolita was captured as a young calf, about 4 years old. She has been in the same tank for the past 40 years. If you would like to help, you can contact Palace Entertainments and ask them to release her. Their contact details are: Fernando Eiroa, President and CEO, c/o Palace Entertainment, 4590 MacArthur Blvd., Suite 400 Newport Beach, CA 92660, Email: feiroa@palaceentertainment.com. You can also write to the company that owns Palace Entertainments: Sir George Buckley, Chairman Arle Capital Partners Ltd, 12 Charles II Street, London, SW1Y 4QU. Lots of interesting info on this link: http://www.orcanetwork.org/Main/index.php?categories_file=Lolita

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Georgina M
Georgina Mabout a month ago

Why in this day and age must "Humans "be entertained by animals, with all the technology that exists today? We are cruel. DO NOT go to any of these places that use animals. Money, money, money. Don't they ever get enough?

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Danuta W
Danuta Wabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing

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heather g
heather gabout a month ago

Another petition to sign, everyone

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