SeaWorld's cruel breeding program comes to a very bittersweet end.

It's been a long time coming, but the breeding program is finally done with.

Three months ago, SeaWorld's orca breeding program came to a long-awaited close with the birth of one last whale: Kyara.

It was welcome news, too. For years, activists have fought back against SeaWorld's treatment of orcas, which has been widely described as "cruel." The 2013 film "Blackfish" put a spotlight on some of SeaWorld's frightening behind-the-scenes antics, and in March 2016, the organization announced a plan to put an end to the breeding program and phase out the public shows.

It was a huge win for animal rights activists, and Kyara's birth at SeaWorld San Antonio was a milestone in itself, as she would be final whale to be born and raised in a SeaWorld park.


Kyara with her mom, Takara. GIF from SeaWorld/YouTube.

In late July 2017, tragedy struck. Kyara contracted an infection and, on July 24, the 3-month-old orca died.

SeaWorld announced the heartbreaking news on its website and social media channels later that day, writing, "Kyara had faced some very serious and progressive health issues over the last week that the animal care and veterinary teams had been aggressively treating." While the specific cause of death isn't yet known, SeaWorld says that signs point to it being pneumonia, a common illness in whale calfs.

Kyara's death is a powerful symbol of SeaWorld's marred reputation, a tragic — if fitting — end to an era.

The good news is that SeaWorld's breeding program is over, at least. SeaWorld's orca shows will be phased out by 2019 — also a positive.

Still, the question remains: What will happen to the more than 20 remaining orcas in captivity at SeaWorld? That's a fight activists aren't quite done with.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has called on SeaWorld to relocate its remaining whales to coastal sanctuaries. Whales that have spent a great deal of time living in captivity might not fare well being released into the wild, which makes the idea of a middle-ground solution sound appealing.

Unfortunately for PETA and other advocates, SeaWorld has rejected their proposition, calling the idea of relocating orcas to "unproven sea cages" dangerous.

Many activists want SeaWorld to extend its ban on captivity breeding to other animals, such as dolphins. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Humane Society executive Wayne Pacelle said, "This is the beginning of discussions with SeaWorld, not the end."

For now, rest in peace, Kyara — and may this tragedy be the last of its kind.

GIF from SeaWorld/YouTube

Most Shared
The Guardian / YouTube

Earlier this month, a beluga whale caught the world's attention by playing fetch with a rugby ball thrown by South African researchers off the waters of Norway.

The adorable video has been watched over 20 million times, promoting people across the globe to wonder how the whale became so comfortable around humans.

It's believed that the whale, known as Hvaldimir, was at some point, trained by the Russian military and was either released or escaped.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / Katie Sturino

Plus-size women are in the majority. In America, 68% of women wear a size 14 or higher. Yet many plus-sized are ignored by the fashion industry. Plus-sized clothing is a $21 billion industry, however only one-fifth of clothing sales are plus-sized. On top of that, plus-sized women are often body shamed, further reinforcing that bigger body types are not mainstream despite the fact that it is common.

Plus-size fashion blogger Katie Sturino recently called out her body shamers. Sturino runs the blog, The 12ish Style, showing that plus-sized fashion isn't – and shouldn't be – limited to clothes that hide the body.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular