According to NPR, SeaWorld San Diego euthanized its 42-year-old killer whale Kasatka due to a respiratory infection. The whale is the second SeaWorld orca to die of a respiratory condition in the last two months and the third in 2017.
Kasatka was a matriarch of the orca pod in San Diego. She had been captured in the wild off the coast of Iceland in 1978. Kasatka was believed to be 42 years old. Orcas typically live to at least 50 in the wild. For the last several years, veterinarians at SeaWorld had been treating Kasatka’s respiratory infection with a specially designed inhaler.
In a statement on its website, SeaWorld wrote, “as her immune system aged, it became more difficult for her to fend off the illness and her medication took longer to have an effect.” In recent months, animal welfare groups posted photos of Kasatka on social media showing her with prominent skin lesions, which they attributed to a fungal infection.
SeaWorld says the respiratory condition the whale had is the most common cause of mortality for whales and dolphins in captivity and the wild. Last month, a 3-month-old killer whale, Kyara died at SeaWorld San Antonio from pneumonia.