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SeaWorld’s beloved pilot whale Bubbles dies

Bubbles, a pilot whale who had been at SeaWorld for nearly 30 years, has died.
Bubbles, a pilot whale who had been at SeaWorld for nearly 30 years, has died.
(Courtesy of SeaWorld San Diego)

Bubbles the pilot whale, a familiar presence at SeaWorld San Diego for nearly 30 years, has died.

The marine park announced the whale’s passing late Thursday but gave no cause. A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause, SeaWorld said.

Calling Bubbles one of the park’s “most beloved animals,” SeaWorld said the whale had been participating in the park’s Dolphin Days show up until the day before she died. Bubbles, who was in her early to mid-50s, was considered geriatric, considering that females live to about 60, said SeaWorld spokeswoman Kelly Terry.

“While Bubbles will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her, she has helped generations of park visitors gain a better appreciation for all animals and the ocean environment,” SeaWorld said in a statement.

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Up until her death, she was believed to be the oldest pilot whale in a zoological park. SeaWorld veterinarians were unavailable to answer questions about Bubbles’ recent health condition.

Over the years, Bubbles was among several pilot whales and a dozen dolphins that have participated in various shows at Dolphin Stadium, dating to the late 1980s.

Earlier this year, the 3,500-seat Dolphin Stadium was closed for several months as it underwent a major renovation. The dolphins and whales were moved to other tanks during the stadium’s down time. It marked the stadium’s first major overhaul since 2010.

Before arriving at SeaWorld in 1987, the 3,000-pound Bubbles had spent two decades living and performing at the former Marineland of the Pacific, located along the Rancho Palos Verdes coast. The whale was moved to SeaWorld after Marineland closed in the late 1980s.

lori.weisberg@sduniontribune.com

Weisberg writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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