A SeaWorld killer whale died Monday at the San Antonio park, making it the third whale to die there in the past six months.
Unna, an 18-year-old whale, had been under constant care by park veterinarians after contracting a fungal infection called Candida, the San Antonio Express-News reported
. SeaWorld San Antonio canceled all killer whale shows Monday when the news broke.
"While there were some indications that the treatment was having a positive effect, Unna had remained in serious condition and under 24/7 care," the park said in a statement on Monday.
"Candida, and fungal infections in general, are found in wild cetaceans. A necropsy will be performed to determine the ultimate cause of her death."
"This is a difficult time for the SeaWorld team and all of Unna's many fans, and we thank you for your thoughts and well wishes," the statement continued.
The Express-News reported that Stella, a two-year-old beluga whale, died last month after being treated for gastrointestinal problems. In July, a newborn beluga died after being born prematurely.
SeaWorld said in its statement that, while Unna contracted Candida, the whale's official cause of death remains in question.
"Candida is an organism that is found in many different animals, including whales and dolphins, both in human care and in the wild," the park's statement said. "In this case, the strain was resistant to commonly used medications, making it more difficult to effectively treat. To provide the best medical treatment for Unna, SeaWorld animal care and veterinary teams consulted with external experts, including nephrologists and fungal experts."
SeaWorld has been under a microscope for its killer whale shows since the documentary "Blackfish" aired in 2013, criticizing the park's orca care. In November, SeaWorld announced plans to phase out the iconic killer whale shows at its San Diego park, citing customer feedback.
"We start everything by listening to our guests and evolving our shows to what we're hearing, and so far that's what we've been hearing in California — they want experiences that are more natural and experiences that look more natural in the environment," Joel Manby, chief executive of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, told the San Diego Union-Tribune
at the time.
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