The last killer whale born in captivity as part of SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday.
Kyara was born to 26-year-old Takara at SeaWorld's San Antonio, Texas, park in April. Over the weekend, Kyara was treated for an infection, and despite the park's best efforts to save her, the 3-month-old calf's health continued to decline.
"Kyara had a tremendous impact on the entire zoological team, not to mention all of the guests that had the chance to see her," San Antonio trainer Julie Sigman said in a statement. "The heart and support that has gone into caring for her throughout Takara's pregnancy until today has been amazing. As animal caregivers we dedicate our lives to these animals, and this loss will be felt throughout the entire SeaWorld family."
While Kyara's official cause of death hasn't been determined, through monitoring the calf's behavior and her symptoms, SeaWorld's veterinary and animal care teams said they suspect she was suffering from pneumonia. A post-mortem exam will be conducted and SeaWorld said it will provide the results as soon as they are available.
SeaWorld announced the end of its breeding program in March 2016 after years of pressure from animal rights groups. The company also decided to phase out its killer whale performances by 2019. That decision came after the 2013 release of "Blackfish," a documentary that put a critical spotlight on SeaWorld's orca care.
SeaWorld now has just 22 orcas left in the U.S. The company announced plans to introduce "natural orca encounters" in exchange for its killer whale performances.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.