(CNN) -- A 25-year-old killer whale unexpectedly died at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, the park said in a statement Tuesday.
The whale, named Kalina, died Monday evening after a sudden illness, according to the statement.
The cause of death will be determined by a necropsy, the park said, adding that the results could take up to six weeks.
The park said Kalina "showed no signs of illness as recently as Friday" and had a normal appetite Sunday.
"She began exhibiting signs of discomfort Monday afternoon and died suddenly in the evening," the statement said.
Kalina is the third adult whale to die at one of SeaWorld's three locations in four months. In September, 12-year-old male killer whale Sumar died suddenly at the San Diego park, and 20-year-old Taima died while giving birth to a stillborn calf at the Orlando park in June.
The average life expectancy for male killer whales in the wild is about 30 years, while females generally live about 50 years. The average life span in captivity is significantly less.
As usual, my analysis is free of charge! Original enough to not steal someone else's quote as a signature
SeaWorld Orlando has alerted us of another celebrity visitor to Discovery Cove...
While spending time in Orlando, Mark Wahlberg enjoyed a day at Discovery Cove where he swam with dolphins, snorkeled with rays and hand-fed exotic birds at the all-inclusive park. Discover more at DiscoveryCove.com.
SeaWorld Orlando also sent us this press release to confirm that the park's expansion plans will be announced next week.
Next week, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Discovery Cove in Orlando will both announce major new attractions coming to the parks in 2011.
But this message will be shared in a different way than many of the parks’ previous new attraction announcements. In an effort to grow and support its eager online Fan base, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove will announce the new attractions on their Facebook pages FIRST via video messages from the parks’ executives the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 13.
Details, images and video footage will be shared with the media via WebCargo a short time later, at 10 a.m. from Busch Gardens and 10:30 a.m. from Discovery Cove. Reporters are also invited to participate in a live-stream Q&A about the Busch Gardens project at 11 a.m.
Those interested in participating in this 30-minute “virtual press conference” will be able to submit questions through Twitter @buschgardens, or via email at BGT.PR@buschgardens.com. The video event will be hosted on the SeaWorld Parks blog site, www.SeaWorldParksBlog.com
Busch Gardens park president Jim Dean will field questions about the new attraction – which Busch Gardens is calling a combination of up-close animal interaction and high-speed thrill ride – with the help of the vice president of Zoological Operations, Mike Boos, and the corporate director of Rides & Engineering, Mike Denninger.
Dean and Boos, along with Discovery Cove vice president Stewart Clark, will also be available for telephone or on-camera interviews the afternoon of the announcement.
And speaking of Discovery Cove, the Orlando Sentinel has posted an interview with a head of the park, confirming that a new reef is being built at the hit park.
Stewart Clark is the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment vice president in charge of Discovery Cove, which is in the midst of a major expansion. Clark, 46, spoke with Sentinel staff writer Jason Garcia.
CFB: There’s quite a bit of construction underway in Discovery Cove right now. What can you tell us about that?
What we’re doing right now at Discovery Cove is we’re trying obviously to expand our park for our guests and expand the experiences that we offer to them. We opened Discovery Cove in 2000 and, since then, we’ve really looked for new and exciting ways to bring people closer to animals and really immerse people in animals’ environments. And one of the key areas that we’ve had in the park, and we’ve always had a great deal of success with, was our tropical reef. It’s no secret in town, but we are building a new reef area in the park. We’ll be talking more about it — we’re pretty excited about it — somewhere around Oct. 13th or so.
CFB:I imagine there’ll be a lot of interest in that.
Sure. We’re excited obviously for an opportunity to, like I said, give our guests a new and exciting experience within the park. One thing, when we built Discovery Cove — kind of going off on a tangent here —we really didn’t anticipate at that time the number of repeat visitors we would have. It’s been such a success and we’ve been blown away with the number of repeat visitors we get. So we’ve looked over the last several years for opportunities: What else, what kind of new and exciting can we deliver to the guests? We delivered Aquatica a couple of years ago, so that was great. And now this allows to have something even within the park to really excite the guests.
CFB: Discovery Cove is still a unique product in Orlando — limited capacity but high margin. How has the concept worked?
When we first opened Discovery Cove, we really didn’t know what to think about the park. And at that time, I was actually the park’s zoological director. The challenge was, let’s bring in a thousand guests a day and let’s give those guests an experience that they would never be able to get anywhere else in the world and really just bring them closer to the animals that they had maybe admired from a close proximity — but not actually being in with them — at places like SeaWorld. That was kind of the mission when we started the park. And in the 10 years, we’ve just been really delighted with the success, and the favorability we’ve gotten back from the guests and our guest-service scores. We started the park with a very strong zoological mission and it matches everything we do in our company’s core. We’re really all about the animals. And Discovery Cove has really allowed us to take that zoological mission and expertise and combine that with the resort experience and that’s been the part that’s really been pleasantly surprising to us. People come in and they’re just absolutely blown away — not just by the animal experiences and the list of things that they’ve done. More than that, it’s been an amazing, relaxing day surrounded in a really great, lush environment.
CFB: I’ve used the analogy of being on a cruise ship.
That’s sort of the driver behind it. We want people to be, absolutely from the point they get in the door, we want them to relax. When you first enter Discovery Cove, you’ll see there is a nature trail. And we built that nature trail with the best intentions — ‘Oh, this will give people a place to sort of immerse into the park.’ But it’s so funny: People are in town, they’re so hyped up on SeaWorld and Disney and Universal and they’re just go, go, go. And so it’s funny to watch people in the morning: They march down that trail and they’re ready to get to the next attraction. And then after a few hours here, it’s great, you see the same people and they’re physically changed. They’re relaxed, they’re kicked back, they’re absolutely having a great day.
CFB: What are some of the challenges of operating a park like Discovery Cove?
A couple of things. One, with such a small attendance base each day, it comes with a great advantage in that there are fewer people in the park. But the disadvantage, from an operations standpoint, would be the guests arrive with a very high expectation. And our job is not just to deliver on that but obviously to exceed that expectation. The other challenge would be, we’ve run zoological parks for years where we’re able to take care of the animals and provide life-support systems and that kind of thing. But when you add humans into the mix, it really presented a whole new set of challenges for us. Our water systems here are just unlike any other that we’ve got. … We process pretty close to 60 million gallons of water a day here. We’ve got very large bodies of water, and then we’re just constantly cleaning that water and putting it through our filtration system.
CFB: I can imagine that’s a complex operation.
It is. Anybody that has a fish tank, especially a saltwater tank, at home, they know how delicate those systems can be. Well, you can imagine if all of a sudden you make that fish tank a 2 million gallon fish tank and on top of that you allow 1,000 people or so a day to swim in it. That was the challenge. And we did our research before we built that park — and, again, we were just so pleasantly surprised, we’ve had such great results with it — but, like any kind of new venture, you can imagine sitting in the SeaWorld boardroom 10 years ago. Back then, we were owned by Anheuser-Bsuch. A couple of people had to walk in and say, ‘We’ve got this great idea. We’re going to open a theme park that’s around $200 a day and it’s only a thousand people.’ I mean, they got laughed out of the room the first few tries.
CFB: Other operators, including Disney, have talked about following a similar “niche park” model. Has SeaWorld itself considered building another Discovery Cove or something similar elsewhere?
We’re always looking for other opportunities. So from probably year two — inside the park anyways — those of us here at the park have just been pounding the drums saying this is an awesome experience. But you know we’re always looking for new ideas and new places. And if you remember a couple of years ago when we were running strong for the Dubai project, that was actually one of the plans there. So quite a bit of planning went even into that project. Unfortunately, with the economy, the economic impact, that’s been put on hold for now.
CFB: Have you learned anything at Discovery Cove to apply at SeaWorld Orlando or your other big parks?
Sure. Probably the biggest thing I’d say we’ve learned is obviously people do want to get closer to animals. That just reinforces that mission that we’ve had. We know people enjoy being around animals and being around the parks. But The attention to small details is really what we teach our employees here. It combines that theme-park experience with the high-level resort experience. And those sometimes can be two different types of employees even. So what we’ve worked hard here to do is really combine that: Somebody who can operate a facility and take care of people in a great way but also obviously provide the best care in the world for animals and systems and that sort of thing. That’s the lesson we’ve learned. And kind of like a Ritz Carlton service-training class, we have a Discovery Cove service training that our people go through. And we’re really proud of the employees here. They’re amazing.
CFB: Did the high price point make Discovery Cove particularly vulnerable during the recession? Or did the limited capacity insulate it some?
We’ve been impacted. Probably like everyone else in the business in Orlando, we’ve seen an impact. I think probably the difference is that it is, for some people, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s that kind of level of experience that people plan. We already have people booked for this time next year. So people plan long in an advance and so, when they do that, I think people adjust their savings to match and take care of it. And just like everywhere else in town, this is probably one of the best times ever to visit Discovery Cove because we’ve really rolled out some awesome packages and we’ve tried to cater that. And we’ve learned from the airline industry, we’ve learned from other hotels and large resorts that you need to give the consumer a choice. So what we do, we encourage people to decide what time of year you’re going to visit and they can now go on to our website, look at a calendar and they can pick out the price that suits them or the package. That’s gone a long way. And being partnered up and obviously part of the SeaWorld family gives us huge flexibility. For example, right now, a Florida resident, you can visit the park for $99 for the day resort package. And then you can add $100 for the dolphin swim. But that also right now for Florida residents comes with SeaWorld for the rest of the year. For a lot of locals especially, all of a sudden now they can take in a lot of the SeaWorld special events — things like Christmas at SeaWorld, things like that.
CFB: You’ve been with SeaWorld since 1983 — what’s the most interesting job you’ve held?
Everyone of them has been interesting. But probably the most interesting time in my career was working as an animal trainer, in SeaWorld of Oho and SeaWorld of California. And one of the most impactful and interesting experiences for me was the first time I moved with the company. I actually moved from SeaWorld of Ohio to SeaWorld San Diego, and I moved on the transport plane. I was from Ohio, I was 21 years old and my team at the time said, ‘We want you to come to San Diego and you can even bring your stuff on the plane — you can have one pallet.’ So I had to go home and decide what I was going to unload and get rid of. So I got my belongings down to one minimized pallet. And it traveled right along with me. So I flew out with the whales and dolphins from Ohio out to San Diego and that’s how I made my move out there.
CFB: You’ve spent more than 25 years in animal training and yet you have a ‘not-so-well-trained’ dog. How did that happen?
That’s true. It’s probably like any other profession, when you get some. … You know, my wife is also an animal trainer, and you would think that our dogs and our animals would just be the best in the world. It’s like anything else — you just want to leave work at work, I guess. My neighbors make fun of me all the time, they’re like, ‘Good golly, you should take that dog to obedience school.’ And it cracks me up. I’m like, ‘Well, we know a couple of people that work animals around here.’
SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a new press release, complete with photos and video, of the newest addition to their killer whale family!
Katina, a 34-year-old killer whale, gave birth Saturday, October 9, at 7:28 p.m. in SeaWorld Orlando’s multimillion-gallon Shamu Stadium.
Katina gave birth to the 7-foot-long, 350-pound calf in Shamu Stadium's main pool following a 45-minute labor. Moments later, the baby whale instinctively swam to the surface for its first breath.
This is the seventh calf born to Katina, an 18-foot-long, 5,400-pound killer whale.
“It’s a terrific day for all of us at SeaWorld,” said Kelly Flaherty-Clark, curator of animal training. “Katina is an experienced mom and she appears to be bonding quickly with her baby.”
SeaWorld veterinarians and trainers remain cautiously optimistic about the progress of the baby and her mother and are encouraged by the bonding they’ve already seen. The gender has not yet been determined.
This calf is the 27th killer whale born at the SeaWorld parks in Orlando, Fla., San Diego, Calif. and San Antonio, Texas. Sixteen whales have been born at SeaWorld Orlando. SeaWorld's killer whale breeding program is the most successful in the world.
Discovery Cove has announced their expansion: The Grand Reef.
Discovery Cove adds The Grand Reef in 2011 (October 13, 2010) Discovery Cove, the ultimate, all-inclusive tropical retreat where guests swim with dolphins, takes immersion to new depths when it opens an all-new addition -- The Grand Reef -- in June 2011.
The new reef features multiple levels of exploration, from shallow waters to deeper swimming adventures, from white sandy beaches and hammocks swaying in the breeze, to snorkeling among canyons inspired by reefs from around the world.
“The Grand Reef takes Discovery Cove’s world-class animal encounters to an all new level -- several, actually,” said Stewart Clark, the park’s vice president. “It’s what our guests expect from us, unforgettable connections with the sea and making memories that will last forever. This could only be created by Discovery Cove.”
Visitors just need to get their feet wet to enjoy The Grand Reef, or they can choose to go deep. They can step into tranquil, shallow waters to discover a below-the-surface world teeming with sea life, or they can snorkel in deeper waters as thousands of exotic fish and graceful rays swim around them.
Surprises abound. Families can seek discoveries along the water’s edge or cross a bridge to see sharks swimming below. They’ll play hide-and-seek with thousands of beautiful fish, from small colorful wrasses to large spotted eagle rays. Further out in the reef, stunning habitats create the feeling of swimming right alongside venomous lionfish and sharp-toothed reef sharks, each safely behind glass. Guests can take paths and bridges to the reef’s islands and hidden grottos as they delve into the reef from above, around and below.
Those looking for an even more exhilarating adventure can take part in The Grand Reef’s innovative experience, SeaVenture, an underwater walking tour. Wearing dive helmets, guests find up-close excitement around every corner, each step yielding a new discovery. They’ll come across lionfish and sharks (safely behind massive panoramic windows), one-on-one touches with unique animals and schools of fish and gentle rays swimming by. SeaVenture is a once-in-a-lifetime, undersea experience available for a nominal fee.
The Grand Reef is the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation, a fully immersive tropical escape, new to discover in Orlando in 2011.
These pages are in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Cedar Fair, Legoland, Merlin Entertainment, Blackstone, Tussaud's Group, Six Flags, Universal Theme Parks, the Walt Disney Company or any other theme park company.
photos and videos on this website were taken with the permission of the park by
a professional ride photographer.
For yours and others safety, please do not attempt to take photos or videos at
parks without proper permission.
You need a sense of humor to view our site,
if you don't have a sense of humor, or are easily offended, please turn back
Most of the content on this forum is suitable for all ages. HOWEVER! There may be some content that would be considered rated "PG-13." Theme Park Review is NOT recommended for ages under 13 years of age.