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SeaWorld killer whale dies giving birth; calf is stillborn

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando dies giving birth
  • Calf is stillborn
  • Father of calf was involved in death of a trainer in February

(CNN) -- A killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando died Sunday while giving birth, the theme park said. The calf was stillborn.

The father of the calf was Tilikum -- the killer whale involved in death of a trainer in February.

SeaWorld canceled two shows on Sunday, but all shows were expected to resume Monday.

"We are very saddened by this loss," said Chris Dold, vice president of veterinary services for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. "Although we understand that complications with pregnancy can occur here, just as they do in the wild, the loss of any animal affects all of us at SeaWorld."

Taima, a 20-year-old killer whale, died from complications associated with the birthing process, SeaWorld said. Taima had successfully given birth to three calves previously.

"Preliminary indications suggest that her death was caused by a condition in which the placenta is delivered before the fetus, as well as an unusual position of the fetus in the birthing canal," SeaWorld said. "She was not able to deliver the stillborn fetus naturally; SeaWorld's veterinarians attempted to assist, but her complications were too severe."

SeaWorld has had 26 successful births of killer whale calves in captivity, according to Dold, who said the birthing success rate is about 50 percent in the wild and 85 percent in a "zoological situation."

A necropsy has been scheduled to determine the cause of death.