On April 12, 2017, Kyara, the last baby orca to be born into a life of captivity at SeaWorld joined the park in San Antonio. A month earlier, SeaWorld announced the shocking and fantastic news that they would stop breeding captive orcas at all of their locations, making Kyara the very last orca new baby at the parks. Sadly, only three months later, little Kyara has passed away.

The orca died on July 24, 2017, but the cause of her death has not yet been determined. The young whale was being treated for an infection, most likely pneumonia, which progressed uncontrollably into a disease that proved to be fatal for the animal. A veterinary team is now to conduct post-mortem examination in order to determine the exact cause, which, according to the company’s news release, could take several weeks.

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The death of Kyara is by no means a tragic and unprecedented accident – which is certainly understood to the point where protests against the practices of SeaWorld are generally recognized and the company’s reputation is widely known. In the past 50 years, SeaWorld has lost more than 100 whales. Many of whom died at a surprisingly young age from illnesses that are completely avoidable – but extremely common amongst captive animals.

Bacterial pneumonia is the most common cause of death for captive dolphins and orcas, states the Orca Network. The fact that so many captive orcas die because of the disease may be influenced by immunosuppression – which means that pathogens or injuries that the immune systems of orcas living in the wild would combat or manage perfectly successfully, often prove fatal to captive orcas because of chronic stress, depression, and even straightforward boredom that the animals suffer from. These serious psychological issues common for captive orcas can easily cause immune system dysfunctions or other health problems. At SeaWorld, at least nine orcas have died of pneumonia since 1971. Most notably, Tilikum, the orca made infamous by “Blackfish,” passed away, most likely from a bacterial lung infection.

Marine mammals do not belong in aquariums – and Kyara’s death is another piece of devastating evidence to this fact. Fortunately, thanks to endless protests by animal rights activists and the general public, there will be no more baby orcas born into this horrific life.

Kyara’s death is a stark reminder that the fight to empty the tanks and keep wild animals in the wild, where they belong, has to continue – to save as many lives as possible. You can help keep the momentum going by boycotting any facility that keeps animals captive and demand that SeaWorld retires their remaining whales to live out their days in sea pens!

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Image source: SeaWorld/Facebook