ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) – The last killer whale born under SeaWorld’s former orca-breeding program has died.
Kyara, who was born at SeaWorld San Antonio to 26-year-old Takara last April, but was conceived before the program’s end was announced in March.
Veterinarians were treating 3-month-old Kyara for an infection last weekend, but her health continued to decline, the Orlando-based company said in a news release.
“Kyara had a tremendous impact on the entire zoological team, not to mention all of the guests that had the chance to see her,” San Antonio trainer Julie Sigman said in a statement. “The heart and support that has gone into caring for her throughout Takara’s pregnancy until today has been amazing. As animal caregivers, we dedicate our lives to these animals, and this loss will be felt throughout the entire SeaWorld family.”
SeaWorld has 22 orcas left in the U.S. The youngest, Amaya, was born in December 2014. All the orcas are expected to remain on display and available for researchers for years to come in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio.
The marine park decided to phase out its world-famous killer whale performances by 2019 after public opinion turned against keeping orcas, dolphins and other animals in captivity for entertainment. The backlash intensified after the 2013 release of “Blackfish,” a documentary critical of SeaWorld’s orca care. It focused on the orca Tilikum, which killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in Orlando in 2010 by dragging her into the pool before shocked visitors after a “Dine with Shamu” show.
Tilikum, which sired 14 calves over nearly 25 years in Orlando, died of bacterial pneumonia in January. Kyara was sired by Kyuquot.
SeaWorld has announced plans to introduce new “natural orca encounters” in place of theatrical shows.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)