A 20-year-old orca named Nakai died of an infection at SeaWorld San Diego, the park announced Friday night.
In a Facebook post, SeaWorld said, “Every attempt was made to save his life. Veterinarians and health specialists had been actively treating an infection, but aggressive therapeutic and diagnostic efforts were unsuccessful.”
Nakai was born at SeaWorld San Diego in 2001. He had previously made headlines when he was injured in 2012. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and SeaWorld concluded that he was hurt by scraping against a track that holds gates between two pools, while animal rights group PETA claimed that Nakai was injured by other killer whales.
The average lifespan for a male orca is about 30 years, as PolitiFact reported in 2015. Nakai is the second orca to die at SeaWorld San Diego in the past year, following the death of 6-year-old female Amaya last August.
SeaWorld instituted a breeding ban on its orcas in 2016 as part of an effort to rehabilitate its image after the 2013 documentary “Blackfish” harshly criticized the chain’s treatment of captive whales. With Nakai’s death, SeaWorld San Diego has eight orcas remaining in its care, ranging in age from 9 to 57.