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News / Nation & World

SeaWorld orca died from lung disease

By Gabrielle Russon, Orlando Sentinel
Published: May 20, 2019, 5:22pm

ORLANDO, Fla. — Kayla, the 30-year-old killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando that unexpectedly died in January, fell victim to lung disease, the theme park company said Monday.

SeaWorld released the cause of death following an investigation into what had suddenly killed the orca. She had seemed healthy until over the course of one weekend when her condition worsened. Veterinarians who gave round-the-clock care couldn’t save her.

“We determined Kayla died of lung disease, which presented very quickly in her case,” said Dr. Chris Dold, SeaWorld’s Chief Zoological Officer in a statement Monday. “Lung disease is a common cause of illness and death seen in marine mammals in the wild, in human care and in those we rescue. It remains the leading cause of death for dolphins and whales throughout the world.”

Her death leaves SeaWorld Orlando park with five other orcas.

Kayla was born into captivity.

“As with all animals in our care, we will try to learn from Kayla’s death,” Dold said in a statement, adding SeaWorld reported her death to the National Marine Fisheries Services and planned to share data collected during her life with the scientific community.

The orcas have long been a symbol of the Orlando theme park and an important attraction to devoted SeaWorld fans.