Kasatka, one of SeaWorld's oldest killer whales, was euthanized Tuesday night following a 10-year struggle with a bacterial respiratory infection.
One of SeaWorld's last killer whales from the wild, Kasatka died at SeaWorld San Diego at around 8:15 p.m., surrounded by members of her pod as well as veterinarians and caretakers.
SeaWorld had been treating her for lung disease since 2008.
"Despite their best efforts, her health and appetite significantly declined over the past several days despite continually tailored treatments," said SeaWorld in a statement
. "Kasatka’s veterinarians and caretakers made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize her to prevent compromising her quality of life."
The 42-year-0ld orca was originally captured off the coast of Iceland in 1978, and was considered the matriarch of her family. She was a mother of four, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of two, says SeaWorld.
Her grandson Trua currently lives at the Orlando park.
"Today, I lost a member of my family. I have spent the past several years with Kasatka and was truly blessed to be part of her life,” said Kristi Burtis, orca behaviorist. “Although I am heartbroken, 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."
This is the third killer whale to pass away at a SeaWorld park this year.
Last month, Kyara
, a 3-month-old killer whale born at SeaWorld San Antonio, died from complications with pneumonia, though the exact cause of death hasn't been released by SeaWorld.
Also in January of this year, Tilikum
, who was the focus of the documentary Blackfish
, died in Orlando. SeaWorld announced that Tilikum died from bacterial pneumonia, but has yet to release the necropsy
SeaWorld mentioned in their statement that lung disease is the most common form of mortality and illness in both captive and wild orcas.