Orca News
1999 and older
Yaka (1969-1997 Marine World California)
December 18, 1999:
Nootka 5 at Marineland Ontario gave birth to a male calf. It was Nootka's fifth pregnancy, four of her calves are still alive.
October/November 1999:
Winnie and Kayla were moved to SeaWorld Texas. Their tank at SeaWorld Ohio was going to be renovated/expanded. Winnie, captured in 1977, is probably the oldest surviving orca from Iceland. Subsequently the young male orca Keet was transferred from SeaWorld Texas to Sea World California on Nov. 7 to create more space for the former Ohio whales and to accustome him with him future tank-pal Keto. Both Keet and Keto, together with Sumar, were moved to SeaWorld Ohio on April 15, 2000, when the work in Aurora was done. Later SeaWorld Ohio was sold and the whales were move to other SeaWorld parks (see above).
July 5, 1999:
A dead man's naked body was found at SeaWorld Florida in Orlando, scratched, bruised and draped over Tilikum, the largest orca whale in captivity. The 27-year-old apparently made his way past security at SeaWorld, remaining in the park after it had closed. Wearing only his underwear, the man either jumped, fell or was pulled into Tilikum's huge tank. A medical examiner concluded the man suffered hypothermia and drowned.
June 12,1999:
A trainer at SeaWorld San Diego was a bit shaken up but otherwise OK after being pushed around by 20 year old female Kasatka during the 2:30 show. Without warning, Kasatka started circling and thrashing near her trainer. Then she grabbed the trainer by the leg with her teeth and tried to push him out of the pool. The Shamu Show was cancelled but later re-opened using another whale.
May 5, 1999:
Katerina died at SeaWorld Texas in San Antonio.

A two-ton performing killer whale has died at SeaWorld of Texas, park officials said Thursday. Trainer David Force said preliminary necropsy results on the 17-foot-long whale, named Katerina, indicated she may have died of an infection. More tests were ordered. Katerina last performed Sunday. On Monday, her behavior seemed to change, according to Force. A blood sample was taken and the 10-year-old whale was put on antibiotics. The animal died Wednesday night. ``She's been doing shows for approximately eight years. A very dependable animal. This obviously was a sudden and unexpected situation,'' Force said. Katerina had been at the SeaWorld park in Texas for about five years, after being born at SeaWorld's park in Florida, then sent to SeaWorld of Ohio, Force said.

1999 San Antonio Express-News

October 29, 1997:
Yaka, the female killer whale at Marine World Africa in Vallejo, California died on October 29, 1997. Yaka was probably close to 30 years old, some 20 years below the average lifespan of her female relatives in the wild. The cause of her death is probably pneumonia. Pneumonia is one of the most common causes of death among cetaceans in captivity.
Yaka, a Pacific Northwest killer whale, came to Marine World Africa in December 1969 together with male Nepo. Nepo died in July 1980. Since November 1980 she was accompanied by Icelandic female killer whale Vigga, who will now be the only orca at Marine World Africa.
Yaka was a member of the A5 pod, as is Corky 2 at SeaWorld California. Corky 2 and Lolita (at the Miami Seaquarium) are now the last surviving orcas captured in the Pacific Northwest. For both whales there are campaigns running for a rehabilitation in their natural waters and a possible release. So far the captive industry has refused to talk about it.
October 6, 1997:
Finna, the 21-year-old, 5,000 kg male killer whale at the Vancouver Aquarium died at 3:40 am on the morning of October 6, 1997. The cause of death remains unknown.
On September 22, a routine daily examination revealed a 40 cm wide, 7 cm high swelling on his right flank. Dr David Huff, the Vancouver Aquarium's consulting veterinarian, examined Finna and ordered standard tests to determine the cause of the swelling. Treatment for a possible infection began on September 23. Veterinary and animal care staff continued to monitor Finna closely. Dr Huff described Finna's condition as "generally good". Finna began to show improvement on September 28 and antibiotic treatment continued. His appetite picked up on October 4.
On Sunday, October 5, Finna's condition changed, he did not eat and appeared lethargic. Despite all possible efforts, Finna died at 3:40 am this morning in the Aquarium's killer whale habitat. Finna's body will be removed for post-mortem examination around 8:00 am.
Following standard protocol, a necropsy team, including Dr. Ron Lewis of the provincial Animal Health Centre, Dr. Dave Huff and Aquarium staff have been assembled. The necropsy will be conducted the morning.
Finna, an Icelandic killer whale, came to the Vancouver Aquarium in December 1980, along with >Bjossa, a 21-year-old female killer whale. Bjossa went through three unsuccessful pregnancies during her time at Vancouver.
(transcript of first news release)

Preliminary findings in the death of Finna, the 21-year-old male killer whale at the Vancouver Aquarium have been presented by consulting veterinarian Dr. Dave Huff. While the cause of Finna's death remains unknown, some details were ascertained from the gross-examination of the body.
The swelling on Finna's flank detected on September 22, was confirmed to be infected. Finna was being treated with antibiotics for this, and appeared to be showing improvement up until Sunday, October 5. Signs of infection were also found on his spleen and lymph nodes.
Pneumonia was found in a section of Finna's lungs. Though not wide-spread in the lungs, the degree of infection was severe. The pathology findings suggest that the pneumonia may have advanced rapidly, perhaps over only 24 to 48 hours.
More detailed findings involving analysis of tissue and blood samples in the lab will take 2 to 4 weeks. It is hoped that this will yield the answer to Finna's sudden death.
Dr. Huff and provincial veterinary pathologist, Dr. Ron Lewis, do not expect the female killer whale, Bjossa, or the white-sided dolphin, Whitewings, to be at risk. Bjossa and Whitewings are healthy and interacting well with their trainers.
The Vancouver Aquarium would like to thank the many kind people who have offered their support and encouragement during this difficult time. We will continue to release details as they become available.
(transcript of second news release)

April 21, 1997:
Hoi Wai died at Ocean Park Hongkong, when she lost too much blood in her intestines. The park besides expressing sorrow also cancelled all performances at the Ocean theater. Hoi Wai's special training coach appeared to be deeply affected by the loss, as he became speechless during the press conference. The park has no plans yet to train another killer whale to replace Hoi Wai.

Hoi Wai was about 22, female, and born in Iceland. She arrived in Ocean Park in January 1979 and has performed in Hong Kong for 18 years, estimated to have entertained over 56 million people. Ocean Park chief Fok Ho Wan expressed Hoi Wai's discomfort was first discovered last Friday, as she didn't continue with her normal feeding amount and had digestion problems. The park on Saturday cancelled the entire day of performances in Ocean Theater. On Sunday Hoi Wai regained her appetite and swam with other animals. But on Monday afternoon, his colleagues again discovered Hoi Wai's serious digestion problem and bleeding. The situation worsened, and after the veterinarian team failed to save her, she finally passed away at 11:40 PM HKT. The park's spokesperson added, Hoi Wai's body would not be made into a model and would later be cremated.

Having trained Hoi Wai for 18 years, animal training coach manager Wong Hoi Ming could not hold back his sadness during the interview, as he said, "Being with her for 18 years, I have always treated her like my child. This time being separated under this situation, not only myself, the entire company was greatly affected by the loss, emotionally we are all very sad......" He also described the countless memories Hoi Wai has given him. He described Hoi Wai was like "housekeeper lady", like a cop, many times she seemed to understand humans and there was much joy playing with her in the water......

Also, Fok Ho Wan pointed, normal killer whales can live until around 30 something (note: actually the average for a female orca is about 50 years), so Hoi Wai didn't die of old age. As for the true cause of death, it will have to wait until the autopsy (note: last report was acute haemorrhagic enteritis (severe blood loss)). He also expressed that after discovering Hoi Wai's illness, she was quarantined. He believed the other ocean animals won't be affected and the theater should open again on April 23rd.

On April 22nd some Hong Kong visitors to the park were shocked and saddened by the news of Hoi Wai's death and praised her as a killer whale who was loved by everyone and will be missed. Hoi Wai's costar in the film Moon Warriors, (Jin Sun) Andy Lau Tak Wai, who spent a period of time with her during the shoot, also expressed sorrow and grief over the loss.

In 1989, the park attempted to match her with a 5 year old Japanese killer whale Prince, but Prince passed away in 1991 due to pseudomonas (severe bacterial infection associated with multiple abscesses and septicaemia). .

Hoi Wai, which means Sea Might, weighed in at about 4400 pounds and measured nearly 17 feet.

Source: Wolverine's News, 23 April 1997

Back to the Orca News

Back to my homepage