The death of any animal is a sad thing no matter how it may happen.
Yet we feel the passing of some animals more than others. And we particularly feel them when they die in unexpected ways.
Just consider the case of Kayla, an orca who lived at SeaWorld Orlando. According to USA Today, the 30-year-old orca (a species sometimes called killer whales) started acting in an odd, uncomfortable manner on Jan. 26.
Veterinarians examined Kayla and prescribed a course of treatment. However, it didn’t help.
Kayla’s condition started to deteriorate dramatically. The Los Angeles Times cited a news release from SeaWorld that said, “Her veterinarians immediately began treatment based on a physical examination.
“Unfortunately, her condition worsened on Sunday. Although animal care specialists and veterinarians devoted around-the-clock attention to Kayla, she did not survive.”
The orca died just after midnight on Jan. 28. SeaWorld expressed puzzlement and consternation over her passing.
“Any loss of a SeaWorld family member brings great sadness,” the company said. “Kayla’s care team shares a special bond with her and is deeply saddened by her death.”
Additionally, the company has begun examining the five remaining orcas at the Orlando park, saying, “It is possible the other orcas could be affected socially by her passing, and the orca behaviorists will be monitoring the other whales closely. We don’t, however, anticipate any physical health issues amongst the other orcas.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Dr. Naomi Rose, a scientist with the animal-rights advocacy group Animal Welfare Institute, noted that Kayla was the world’s second-oldest, born-in-captivity orca. However, she expressed concern about the untimeliness of the animal’s death.
Left to their own devices in the wild, orcas can live a long time. Some even make it to 80 or 90 years of age.
Rose said that Kayla’s passing was “like literally being a 30-year-old woman. Dying at 30 is not normal.”
Animal-rights organizations have long criticized SeaWorld for its treatment of killer whales. In 2016, the company said that it would halt its orca breeding program.
It also has begun to phase out theatrical shows featuring orcas and plans to restrict them solely to educational shows. In the wake of Kayla’s passing, SeaWorld said it did not plan to alter its timeline any further.
What do you think? Should SeaWorld make some sweeping changes or is its current plan just fine?
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