SeaWorld Killer Whale Passes Away

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One of Seaworld’s most prized and beloved animals, the 12 year-old male orca named Sumar, suddenly and mysteriously passed away this week, leaving behind a shocked and devastated staff. The death places even more pressure on the theme park chain, which was already under attack and intense scrutiny for having a trainer pass away in February.

But for the time being, the company’s focus is on the family member that they lost: “All of us, especially his trainers, will miss Sumar more than you know. He was a truly wonderful whale and was very deeply loved,” Sea World said in a public message on facebook.

Aside from the grief it has caused, the whale’s death complicates already difficult issues for the company, which relies on public support of keeping orcas in captivity and breeding them. With the increase of incidents related to confining orcas in private pools in the past year, that public support is on the decline, and skepticism about whether large pools at entertainment parks provide healthy environments for the normally nomadic orcas is increasing.

For their part, Sea World officials have contended that their environments are more than healthy, and that they provide expert medical care, nutrition programs, and stimulating activity for their animals. The controversy comes in the wake of a $75,000 fine last month by the U.S. Department of Labor over allegations that SeaWorld neglected safety measures before the death of an orca trainer in Orlando on February 24th.

Still, experts say that the issue is not so out of hand that SeaWorld will be heavily affected. Dennis Spiegel, president of International Theme Park Services, told the Union-Tribune: “People aren’t going to stop coming because one whale died.”

Photo from eschipul via flickr


  1. Miss J

    September 10, 2010 at 11:00 am

    As much as I wish these beautiful animals a long and happy life of freedom, if they remain confined I hope they do not breed to perpetuate the industry of captive cetaceans for entertainment and profit.

  2. Angela

    September 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

    This raw video of workers removing Sumar’s body from the pools while his closest friend Orkid remains by his side is a good example of why the captivity of orcas is so wrong.
    Orcas are one of the most intelligent species on the planet, along with humans. There are no sharp dividing lines between us and other intelligent social animals, and I believe it is time to reexamine our ethics with regard to how we treat beings like this. Fellow animals that think and feel and suffer like we do should probably not be kept as slaves for our own entertainment. And we just can’t provide them with anything like the habitat in which they evolved: the wide open sea, surrounded by their family and friends, constantly communicating with them, catching wild prey. Are we willing to make intelligent beings suffer and die young for our superficial desires for entertainment? There are places you can go, like here in the Pacific Northwest, where you can go see them in the wild, leaping and playing with their babies. That is where they all belong. It is not educational for people to see them in these small pools doing tricks. That is not what a killer whale IS.

  3. Angela

    September 10, 2010 at 11:18 am

    @Miss J, they very much do breed their whales to continue to profit from them. They use these bulls for artificial insemination. The whale that killed Dawn, Tilikum, had recently impregnated two females, one of whom just died in childbirth delivering a stillborn calf–a very painful death. Statistics on captive whales can be found here

    Sumar’s friend Orkid has been artificially inseminated several times without success. Captive orcas are the cash cows for these theme parks, and profit is the reason for all their defensive rationale for keeping them: they are healthier in captivity than in the wild, it’s educational, they live as long as wild whales, etc. Every baby orca or beluga is a huge profit-making draw for these parks.

  4. Roalie

    September 10, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    All you people complain about stupidity that happened 30yrs ago- you dont realize this orca was born in Captivity. He didint know about the ocea. So stop complaining Suddenly an orca dies and idiots decided to compaing and put up bul of free the orcas. GET OVER YOURSELF IT AINT HAPPENING.. Have some respect for this incredible animal and for the people that cared for him.. you dont like orcas and aquariums Dont go.. no one is forcing you, but im going to continue going cause I like the parks and the animals. Not like i have the money to see the in the wild.. so get over yourself and respect the dead.. Geez

  5. Prowler323

    September 13, 2010 at 12:28 am

    Sumar is lucky to be released from his prison. Orca captivity is brutal and cruel. Save your sympathy for those poor animals still confined to tanks so small that they make the poor animals insane.

  6. Gwen

    October 7, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Roalie – it costs hundreds of dollars to see a captive killer whale at Sea World, and you claim to not have the money to see wild ones? A whale watching experiences costs even LESS than a Sea World admission ticket. Honestly, I think you just don’t WANT to see them in the wild. If you truly respect these mammals, you would understand their need to be free and roaming the oceans, not performing for your sick entertainment!

  7. Anita Murray Cook

    November 30, 2010 at 4:03 am

    First of all to that Roalie person. People like you make me sick. Swim with the Sharks why do you? You have absolutely no f…..idea what your talking about you moron. I can not tolerate people who speak and have nothing to say. So Shut UP!!! And until you know what your talking about don’t talk anymore and show your stupidity. Second, maybe you should be captive somewhere so we can come and look at you eh? We have no business capturing and keeping the Sea Angel’s that do no belong to us. They belong to the ocean, the open seas. For them to be confined for pure pleasure is not only shameful but also a crime now days. The people who keep them for entertainment should be fined and imprisoned if they do not heed and set them free. Get a job, I don’t know, a paper route maybe?

  8. Otis Gering

    February 2, 2011 at 4:27 am

    Hello.This post was really remarkable, particularly since I was browsing for thoughts on this topic last Tuesday.

  9. Phil Konstantin

    October 5, 2012 at 6:06 am

    Here is my video of Sumar has they were about to remove him from his enclosure. Taken from a helicopter. –

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