It’s been a sad year for SeaWorld, having lost two orcas already.
Unfortunately, things just got more tragic with news that the matriarch of its killer whale family has died. Officials at the park in San Diego confirmed that Kasatka, a 41-year-old orca, died “surrounded by members of her pod, as well as the veterinarians and caretakers who loved her.”
Caretakers decided to euthanize her after her quality of life had been compromised. The whale had a long history of lung disease.
“I have spent the past several years with Kasatka and was truly blessed to be part of her life,” orca behaviorist Kristi Burtis said.
“Although I am heartbroken,” she added, “I am grateful for the special time we had together and for the difference she has made for wild orcas by all that we have learned from her. I adored Kasatka and loved sharing her with millions of people. I will miss her very much.”
>> RELATED: Famed orca whale Tilikum of SeaWorld has died
Earlier this summer, Kyara, a 3-month-old orca that was the last born in captivity, died, which came on the heels of SeaWorld San Antonio losing Tilikum, the notorious whale that had killed a SeaWorld trainer, back in January.