One of the problems for orcas in captivity is that they tend to die young. So it was sad, but not surprising, to hear of the death of 12-year old Sumar at SeaWorld San Diego earlier this week.
Here’s part of the report from San Diego’s 10News.com:
SAN DIEGO — A killer whale died Tuesday afternoon at SeaWorld, prompting the cancellation of whale shows at the park, officials told 10News.According to SeaWorld officials, trainers noticed that the whale named Sumar was not feeling well on Monday. Veterinarians were notified and blood samples were taken.Despite being given antibiotics, Sumar’s condition worsened Tuesday and he was declared dead shortly before 1:45 p.m., park officials said.
“Unfortunately … he did not respond,” said SeaWorld spokesman Dave Koontz. “His condition continued to deteriorate today. … Whatever illness he had, it moved very fast.”Park officials told 10News the 12-year-old whale had no prior history of major health problems.The whale was removed from the park grounds and a necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death, 10News reported.
Koontz said it was a “very sad day” for trainers and other staff members at SeaWorld.”They love these animals,” Koontz said. “They are devoted to these animals, and (the death of one is) like losing a member of their family.”Killer whales in captivity routinely live into their 30s or 40s, according to Koontz.
It would be nice if SeaWorld would release the results of the necropsy, because the reasons killer whales in captivity die suddenly are not very well understood. And despite what Koontz says, they DO NOT routinely live into their 30s and 40s. Of the 41 orcas still alive in captivity, only two have survived long enough to reach the age of 40, and only three have survived long enough to reach the age of 30. More than 130 have died before reaching those ages (details here).
To give you a sense of how young orcas in captivity mostly are when they die, here is a list of orcas that have died at SeaWorld over the years, and their age at death (which doesn’t include more than a dozen stillbirths or miscarriages).
1. Shamu (F) – lived 6 years
2. Ramu – (M) lived 15 years
3. Kilroy (M) – lived 11.5 years
4. Kandu (F) – lived 4 years
5. Orky 2 (M) – lived 20 years
6. Nootka (F)– lived 20 years
7. Winston (M) – lived 15.5 years
8. Kandu 3 (F) – lived 4 years
9. Sandy (F) – lived 4.5 years
10. Kona (F) – lived 6 years
11. Canuck (M) – lived 2.5 years
12. Frankie (M) – lived 5 months
13. Kanduke (M) – lived 15 years
14. Kenau (F) – lived 15 years
15. Gudron (F) – lived 19.5 years
16. Canuck 2 (M) – lived 4 years
17. Kona 2 (F) – lived 10 years
18. Kandu 5 (F) – lived 12 years
19. Winnie (F) – lived 24.5 years
20. Kotar (M) – lived 16.5 years
21. Shawn (F) – lived 1 year
22. Kahana (F) – lived 12.5 years
23. Nootka 4 (F) – lived 12 years
24. Haidi 2 (F) – lived 19 years
25. Samoa (F) – lived 8.5 years
26. Bjossa (F) – lived 21 years
27. Katerina (F) – lived 10.5 years
28. Splash (M) – lived 15.5 years
29. Taku (M) – lived 14 years
30. Nyar (F) – lived 2 years
31. Baby – lived 38 days (Haida 2)
32. Hayln (F) – lived 2 1/2 years
33. Taima (F) – lived 21 years
34. Baby Shamu 2 – lived 11 days (Kenau)
45. Sumar – 12 years
There are lots of pics of Sumar here. And here is some video of Sumar doing what Sumar was trained to do.
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