SeaWorld News: 18-Year-Old Orca Dies In Texas Weeks After Big ‘Shamu’ Announcement

SeaWorld is in the news this week after an 18-year-old Orca died in captivity at their San Antonio theme park location. According to Pedestrian, the whale named Unna died after suffering from an infection for the past several months. Since Orcas live anywhere from 50 to 100 years, Unna’s death is being called suspicious by some, even if she did contract an illness while under SeaWorld’s care.

Captain Paul Watson from the Sea Shepherd organization posted a message on Facebook following the news.

“Unna died from fungal cystitus and that is an illness caused by the stress of captivity. Her death was not natural as Sea World claims. This Orca died because she was in prison, in an unnatural environment and her immune system was compromised from years of abuse. Sea World and other prisons for Orcas and dolphins must be shut down. These aquatic palaces of pain are the reason dolphins are massacred in Taiji, Japan,” he said in part.

SeaWorld released a statement announcing the whale’s death, and said that they would be canceling the live shows in San Antonio for the day (December 21) in “honor” of the whale. Of course, SeaWorld blames the illness for the whale’s death, and seems to imply that fungal cystitis is “common” in killer whales and that this was just an unfortunate event that couldn’t have been prevented and nothing more.

“Unna suffered from a resistant strain of a fungus called Candida, and the team had developed a novel treatment plan in consultation with leading medical experts around the country. While there were some indications that the treatment was having a positive effect, Unna had remained in serious condition and under 24/7 care. Candida, and fungal infections in general, are found in wild cetaceans. A necropsy will be performed to determine the ultimate cause of her death.”

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, SeaWorld recently announced that they would be canceling their live whale show (called “Shamu”) at one of their 11 theme park locations in 2016 (Orlando and San Antonio will reportedly still feature the show). The company will offer a way for park visitors to see these whales in a more “natural” environment, but have yet to specify what that will be.

The decision was made after the controversial documentary Blackfish exposed the company, and caused their market value to drop — by half. Since Blackfish was released in 2013, thousands of people have chosen to boycott the theme park. Many believe that these Orca whales should not be in captivity and that their lives are in danger. The more whale deaths that SeaWorld reports, the worse it seems to get for the company.

While people come from all over the globe to see Orcas up close and personal, many believe that keeping these whales in tanks is unethical. Many feel that this sort of captivity poses a danger to the whales and to the trainers that work with them.

SeaWorld has been hit hard because of Blackfish, but the organization does not seem to want to stop keeping Orcas in captivity — and some people don’t want to stop paying to see these whales. Of course it is amazing to get to see a killer whale up close and personal, but at what expense?

Do you think that SeaWorld is abusing these marine mammals? Do you think more people should boycott the company? Sound off in the comments below.

[Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images]