Pilot Whale Dies At SeaWorld Following 'Continued Health Issues'
Fredi died on Saturday having been rescued from a mass stranding of 23 whales in Florida Keys in 2011. Thirteen of the whales died on the beach but Fredi was saved, however, she was deemed unfit to be re-released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration due to the fact she was very young, so was sent to live at SeaWorld.
Her death means there are now three pilot whales left at SeaWorld Orlando, with four whales dying in the theme park in the last three years.
A statement from SeaWorld said Fredi, also known as 301, had 'inspired millions'.
It read: "For whales and dolphins that strand, full recovery is not always guaranteed. 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.
"301 lived the past eight years at SeaWorld with a pod of rescued pilot whales and received world-class care and a second chance she would not have had otherwise and provided the rescue team with invaluable knowledge on how to respond to, and care for stranded animals.
"She inspired millions of guests and her care team, and she will be deeply missed."
The statement went on to explain that Fredi had been 'undergoing an aggressive anti-microbial treatment to treat a persistent infection', and while her infection was not believed to be contagious, SeaWorld said it would be continually monitoring the health of the rest of the pod.
Animal rights activists have long campaigned for theme parks such as SeaWorld to close, arguing that it is unethical to keep whales in such an environment. Moreover, they argue that whales have a shorter life expectancy when kept in captivity. Male short-finned pilot whales can live for up to 45 years, while females can live up to 65 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
SeaWorld announced plans to phase out shows and breeding programmes following the release of documentary Blackfish in 2013, which was critical of the theme parks' practices.
In January, a killer whale died at SeaWorld Orlando. Kayla was born at the theme park and died aged 30.
Featured Image Credit: SeaWorld