Our hearts go out to all who loved this beautiful lady.

By Meghan Overdeep
January 29, 2019
SeaWorld Orlando Orca
Credit: Orlando Sentinel/Getty Images

Sad news out of SeaWorld Orlando this week. The park announced that one of their beloved orcas, a 30-year-old female named Kayla, passed away unexpectedly on Monday morning.

Kayla began showing signs of illness over the weekend, though her official cause of death remains unknown.

"Her veterinarians immediately began treatment based on a physical examination," SeaWorld said in a release. "Unfortunately, her condition worsened through the next two days."

Kayla reportedly died with her team of animal care specialists by her side. "The entire SeaWorld family is deeply saddened by the loss," the theme park said. "While today is a difficult day for all of us at SeaWorld, Kayla inspired generations of guests and employees to care and learn more about this amazing species."

Kayla is the fourth orca to die at a SeaWorld park in the two years since they announced the closure of their orca breeding program.

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According to Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine-mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, Kayla was the second oldest captive-born orca ever.

"30 is prime of life" for a female orca whose average life span in the wild is 50 years but can go up to 80 or 90 years, Rose told the Orlando Sentinel.

"That's like literally being a 30-year-old woman," Rose added. "Dying at 30 is not normal."

SeaWorld has 20 orcas left at its parks: five in Orlando, five in San Antonio, and 10 in San Diego.