At only 2 years old, Stella was just a baby when she died at SeaWorld San Antonio on Friday. Veterinarians had been treating the beluga whale for signs of stomach issues, but the cause of her death has not yet been confirmed.
Stella was born in one of SeaWorld‘s miserable concrete tanks in July 2013. In the wild, belugas live together in small groups known as “pods.” They are social animals and communicate with each other using a language of clicks, whistles, and clangs. But Stella never got a chance to explore the vast ocean with her family. Instead, she was trapped in a prison and denied everything that was natural and important to her until the day she died.
Stella is not the only beluga to die prematurely in captivity—her death comes just a few months after another baby beluga died at the same SeaWorld park. In fact, at least 58 belugas have died at SeaWorld facilities, proving that belugas simply cannot be successfully bred in concrete tanks. That’s why places like SeaWorld have tried so hard to import belugas captured from the wild, as Stella’s parents were. Her mother, Crissy, and her father, Imaq, were both captured over 25 years ago from their home waters off Manitoba, Canada. Seen as nothing but products to be used for profit, both Crissy and Imaq were forced to undergo the stress of being transferred to and from different marine parks before ending up at SeaWorld San Antonio.
Like the others before her, she died far short of the 50 years that belugas can live in their natural ocean homes, and her preventable death is one of the many reasons why PETA is calling for an end to SeaWorld’s deadly beluga-breeding program.