SEAWORLD San Diego’s orca Amaya suddenly died and the controversial park has no idea why it happened, angering fans.
Amaya, who was a 6-year-old female, had a “sudden and unexpected” death, according to reports.
‘Saddened by the loss’
The San Diego marine park said that Amaya showed signs of illness on Wednesday, but they were caught off guard when she died Thursday with animal care specialists by her side.
"The entire SeaWorld family is saddened by the loss," SeaWorld said in a statement.
The cause of her death is pending until a post-mortem exam is complete, which could take weeks.
A park spokesperson said that specialists and veterinarians treated Amaya immediately but "despite her care team’s efforts, Amaya’s condition continued to deteriorate. Her death was sudden and unexpected."
Amaya was described as “one of the most playful whales in our pod" and that the park said she enjoyed "interacting with her animal care specialists."
"This is a very difficult time for those who knew and loved Amaya. She inspired millions of guests to appreciate and learn more about this amazing species.
"The specialists who cared for her at SeaWorld are heartbroken."
SeaWorld has faced controversy over the treatment of its whales and other animals.
At least 24 orcas have died at SeaWorld’s three parks, according to the non-profit Whale and Dolphin Conservation USA.
The outlet states there is "a growing catalog of 'accidents,' illnesses, failed pregnancies and premature deaths that have helped to show up this industry for the cruel circus that it really is."
The release of a 2013 documentary called Blackfish gained attention, pressuring SeaWorld to put an end to their breeding program.
The film featured the struggles of a Tilikum, a male orca that died in 2017 at age 36.
Amaya was the youngest orca at the park and both of her parents, Kaila and Ulises, are still alive, according to SeaWorld.
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