'Truly Amazing' 6-Year-Old Orca Whale Dies Unexpectedly at SeaWorld San Diego

Amaya the orca became ill on August 18 and died unexpectedly the next day after the sudden deterioration of her health despite around the clock care from SeaWorld SanDiego's animal care specialists

Photo: SeaWorld/Facebook

SeaWorld San Diego is mourning the loss of the California theme park's youngest orca whale.

According to CNN, Amaya, a 6-year-old orca, died on August 19 after showing sudden signs of illness the day before. SeaWorld San Diego's specialists and veterinarians attempted to treat the young whale but could not stop the rapid and unexpected deterioration of the marine mammal's health.

"We come to you today with news of the passing of Amaya, a truly amazing orca and member of our SeaWorld family," SeaWorld San Diego shared on Facebook Friday.

"This is a very difficult time for those who knew and loved Amaya. She taught millions of guests to appreciate this amazing species. The specialists who cared for her at SeaWorld are heartbroken," the post added.

SeaWorld's Facebook announcement on Amaya's death also included a tribute from one of the whale's caretakers.

"Amaya was a playful, fun-loving orca that always put smiles on people's faces. She will be missed by our team and the guests that she inspired. Thank you so much for the outpouring of love and support," Petey, one of Amaya's animal care specialists, shared in SeaWorld's post.

SeaWorld is conducting a post-mortem exam to learn more about the illness that took Amaya's life and determine the whale's exact cause of death, the Associated Press reported. Results will likely take weeks.

RELATED VIDEO: Tilikum, the SeaWorld Whale that Inspired Blackfish, Has Died in Captivity

Amaya was one of the last orca whales to be born in a SeaWorld park. In 2016, SeaWorld announced the end of all of the parks' captive orca breeding programs. The decision came after years of pressure from animal rights activists, which increased in 2013 after the release of Blackfish, a documentary that explored the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by SeaWorld orca Tilikum in 2010.

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