A SeaWorld orca allegedly "held in a tiny tank for twenty years and savagely bullied by other whales" has died of an infection.
On Thursday (August 4), SeaWorld San Diego confirmed that 20-year-old Nakai, who was born in captivity, had died despite the best efforts of carers.
Prominent animal groups including PETA have claimed that the whale was subjected to "years of torment in a tiny cage" and shared a clip allegedly showing Nakai being attacked.
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In the clip shared by PETA, they claim a "violent attack" between killer whales at the park was filmed by a visitor which ended "in a serious wound to at least one of the animals".
In the brutal clip, two massive orcas can be seen fighting in the tank while scared children and adults chatter in the background.
One child can be heard screaming: “How is it still alive? I thought they hug each other, not fight each other."
It was however unclear if Nakai had been involved in the incident that was filmed.
Tracy Reiman, PETA’s executive vice president, said: "In two days, one orca has died and another has been attacked by other frustrated, tightly confined orcas, leaving him with a serious injury — and young children as witnesses to the carnage."
PETA also made reference to an injury Nakai picked up in 2012 when he lost a sizeable chunk of his jaw after a performance with two whales.
After studying images of Nakai, Dr Ingrid N. Visser of the Orca Research Trust claimed that Nakai’s "puncture marks" matched "orca teeth spacing".
However, SeaWorld insisted that the wound had not been caused by fighting and was instead due to the whale coming "into contact with a portion of the pool".
And reacting to PETA’s latest claim, a SeaWorld spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that the video was "misleading and misconstrued".
Following his death, in a statement, the park said: "Every attempt was made to save [Nakai’s] life.
"Veterinarians and health specialists had been actively treating an infection, but aggressive therapeutic and diagnostic efforts were unsuccessful.
"He’ll be remembered as a curious and quick learner, often picking up behaviours just by observing the other whales in his pod."
The Daily Star has contacted SeaWorld for comment.
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