A pilot whale rescued from a mass stranding in the Florida Keys in 2011 died Saturday at SeaWorld Orlando.
The park’s blog had been providing regular health updates on the whale, named Fredi. Out of the 23 whales stranded near Cudjoe Key in 2011, she was one of eight that survived. With Fredi deemed “non-releasable” by federal authorities due to her young age at the time, SeaWorld Orlando became her permanent home.
“For whales and dolphins that strand, full recovery is not always guaranteed,” SeaWorld said in a blog post. “This pilot whale faced continued health issues since her initial stranding. In recent months her condition progressed, requiring advanced monitoring and care by the SeaWorld veterinary and animal care teams. Despite that full effort, her health and quality of life declined recently and she was no longer responding to treatment.”
Fredi’s death was due to an infection, according to SeaWorld. Her condition was not believed to be contagious.
It’s the second death of a whale under SeaWorld’s care this year and the fifth overall since January 2017. The most recent death was Kayla, a female orca who died in January after a short illness at the end of 30 — “prime of life in the wild,” Animal Welfare Institute marine mammal scientist Naomi Rose told Orlando Rising at the time.
Fredi’s death drew more criticism from animal rights group PETA, which again called on SeaWorld to move its whales to seaside sanctuaries.
These deaths follow a comeback year for SeaWorld where it seemed to shake off the long slump in attendance and revenue that followed the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” which criticized the use of captive whales by the theme park chain. The Orlando has since emphasized rides and attractions outside its marine life theme, such as the recently opened Sesame Street.