An 18-year-old killer whale has died at a SeaWorld park in San Antonio, marking the third time this has happened this year.
Officials say the whale, Unna, had contracted a harmful strain of fungus and was under constant care from park veterinarians. She was receiving a "first-of-its-kind" treatment plan and there was hope she was recovering, but ultimately she succumbed to the illness.
“This is an extremely difficult day for the SeaWorld family and all of Unna’s many fans,” Chris Bellows, vice president of zoological operations, said in a statement.
SeaWorld canceled all whale shows at the Texas park on Monday in Unna's honor.
SeaWorld has been the object of intense scrutiny for over a year, following the release of the documentary "Blackfish." The company has been dealing with an ongoing public outcry and plunging ticket sales, and has announced that it will end traditional killer whale shows at its San Diego park in 2017.
But the traditional show will be replaced by another, "more natural" experience that will still include captive whales. Meanwhile, at the company's other parks in San Antonio and Orlando, Florida, business will continue as usual.
Conservationists have long urged the park to free its whales and called for an end to its captive breeding programs.
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