Baby killer whale Kyara, the last to be born at SeaWorld, dies

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Killer whale Kyara, the 3-month-old calf which was the last to be born as part of SeaWorld’s orca breeding program, has died in Texas while being treated for an infection, park officials say.

Kyara recently fell ill and was being treated for an infection, believed to be pneumonia, in the husbandry pool at SeaWorld San Antonio’s Animal Hospital. Her health continued to decline rapidly over the weekend and she died on early Monday morning.

“Kyara had faced some very serious and progressive health issues over the last week that the animal care and veterinary teams had been aggressively treating,” the park said. “While the official cause of death will not be determined until the post-mortem exam is complete, we know that Kyara had an infection, likely pneumonia, and that her health continued to decline.”

Kyara had been removed from her mother’s care to ensure that she received the necessary hydration and treatment. She had also not been receiving the daily nutrition that she needed, according to SeaWorld, which is why staff members started hand-feeding her multiple times a day.

Kyara was born to Takara on April 19 and both mother and calf initially appeared to be healthy. Pneumonia is one of the most common causes of death and illness in whales and dolphins, both in the wild and in captivity, according to SeaWorld.

The captivity of killer whales has become increasingly controversial, particularly since the release of the 2013 documentary “Blackfish.” Takara was already pregnant when SeaWorld announced in March 2016 that it would stop breeding killer whales, and Kyara was the last orca to be born as part of the program.

But despite its decision to end the breeding program, SeaWorld expects to have orcas at its parks for decades to come, although its theatrical orca shows are being phased out to be replaced with a “new orca experience” that takes places in a more natural setting.

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