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SeaWorld San Diego orca Sumar dies

September 7, 2010 |  8:02 pm

The death of a 12-year-old orca named Sumar at SeaWorld San Diego on Tuesday left the marine park struggling to understand the death of the comparatively young killer whale and led to the cancellation of several orca shows at Shamu Stadium.

Sumar seemed lethargic Monday, and staff veterinarians administered antibiotics, our sister blog L.A. Now reports. He died at about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, and a necropsy -- an animal autopsy -- is planned.

David Koontz, a SeaWorld spokesman, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Sumar's illness "came on very quickly" but said there is no concern that he was stricken by a disease that could be contagious to the park's six remaining orcas.

Sumar was born at SeaWorld Orlando in 1998 and lived at lived briefly at a now-defunct SeaWorld park in Ohio before going to the San Diego park in 2001. His parents were Tilikum, the bull orca involved in a February incident that left SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau dead, and Taima, a female who died in June  giving birth to a stillborn calf that would have been Sumar's full sibling.

Last month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that it had cited SeaWorld for workplace safety violations -- most notably a "willful" violation for "exposing [SeaWorld] employees to struck-by and drowning hazards when interacting with killer whales" -- with fines totaling $75,000.

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-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: Sumar performing in SeaWorld's "Believe" orca show in 2008. Credit: Irrawaddyfan via YouTube

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