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Orca dies at SeaWorld San Diego

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Sumar, one of the killer whales at SeaWorld San Diego, died Tuesday at the early age of 12, a day after trainers noticed it was lethargic and seemed ill.

The whale's death was one of a series of problems that have hit the company this year, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The company owns 18 whales at its theme parks in San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando, Fla.

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A trainer, Dawn Brancheau, was killed in February by Sumar's father, Tilikum, and SeaWorld was notified last month of a $75,000 penalty. The whale's mother, Taima, died in June while giving birth at age 20.

The orcas at SeaWorld and other aquatic parks are bred in captivity.

"Sumar was 12. That is not a long life -- not for a wild orca. Was it a happy or fulfilled life? Not from our perspective," said Courtney Vail of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

SeaWorld said Sumar had been healthy until this week and the cause of death wasn't immediately known.

"All of us, especially his trainers, will miss Sumar more than you know. He was a truly wonderful whale and was very deeply loved," the company said in a Facebook posting.

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