A killer whale died at SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas last week, making her the third whale to die in a SeaWorld park this year.
The cause of death was a fungal infection, for which the 18-year-old whale had been receiving medical treatment. In the wild, killer whales, or orcas, can live to be 100 years old (but generally have a life expectancy of 50 years).
Chris Bellows, vice president of zoological operations, said it was “extremely difficult” to learn of the whale, Unna's, death.
SeaWorld, and particularly the SeaWorld in San Antonio, has been under harsh criticism from animal activists in recent months. The anger began to build after the release of the documentary “Blackfish” and has continued to strengthen since. The deaths of a newborn whale in July and a two-year-old Beluga whale in November have only validated the public's disdain for the aquatic theme park.
Officials from SeaWorld recently announced a plan to end traditional killer whale shows at the San Diego park by 2017. The performance, however, will be replaced by another performance using captive whales, and the park's other two locations (in San Antonio and Orlando, Florida) have no plans to change their shows.
For now, the public is using Unna's death as fuel for the already raging fire against SeaWorld and its inhumane treatment of sea animals.
Take a look, below.
People hope news of Unna's passing will encourage the public to put more pressure on SeaWorld to end orca captivity.
Unna, an 18 year old SeaWorld orca, passed away yesterday. Wild orcas live an average of 30-50+ years. Stop captivity and focus on education — LanceTheDriver (@LanceTheDriver1) December 23, 2015
Many are using the hashtag #CaptivityKills to raise awareness for the issue.
Unna the orca dies at SeaWorld. Just 18 years old, she spent her entire life in captivity https://t.co/p8yvS0vXkC #CaptivityKills — Mark Hawthorne Ⓥ (@markhawthorne) December 22, 2015
Others are simply sharing the news in the hopes that people will be inspired to act.
RIP #Blackfish Unna. Barely 19 and lost 3 babies. She lived a horrible life at #SeaWorld. https://t.co/vclyy6sf5N pic.twitter.com/Cwe1UilOyo — The Orca Project (@TheOrcaProject) December 22, 2015
And some are calling for a full-fledged boycott of SeaWorld and places like it.
Another Orca has died at @seaworld Please boycott any place that has Dolphins or Killer Whales in captivity — Rev. Riki Rachtman (@RikiRachtman) December 22, 2015
Rest in peace, Unna.
Another orca has died at SeaWorld. Captivity kills. #StartWith1Thing Don't buy a ticket to an orca or dolphin show. https://t.co/mKRbE4FFxq — Leilani Münter (@LeilaniMunter) December 22, 2015