Horror death of SeaWorld killer whale Kandu 5 left spouting blood from blowhole after attack on another orca

SEAWORLD killer whale Kandu V died a horrifying death spouting blood from her blowhole following a fight with another orca.

The 14-year-old orca rammed the larger rival during a show, breaking her jaw and severing a major artery in her nasal passages.

Killer whales in captivity have been known to become aggressive and even attack humans on rare occasions.

SeaWorld banned human and orca performances in 2010 as they work to improve conditions for the highly intelligent animals.

Keeping orcas in captivity remains a controversial practice, but SeaWorld insist their animals receive world class care and the study of them helps protect the creatures in the wild.

But one of the most infamous incidents occurred when Kandu V – who had a history of aggression, turned on another orca.


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On August 21, 1989, Kandu V was performing in a so-called Shamu Show alongside another female Corky II.

Video of the incident shows the water turning red with the killer whale's blood in front of the horrified audience.

And a gruesome pictured published by animal rights charities The Ocean Preservation Society and The Orca Project appears to show her spouting red fluid from her blowhole.

A SeaWorld spokesperson previously said: "Trainers have not been in the water training or performing with killer whales at SeaWorld since 2010. 

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"There have been no incidents as described in this article since these changes were made more than a decade ago.  

"Our hundreds of veterinarians and care specialists provide world-class medical care.  

"None of the killer whales in our care live a solitary life and they participate in positive reinforcement sessions daily, engaging in a range of different activities to ensure they receive plenty of physical and mental exercise. 

"Additionally, the study of orcas in our care by our scientists and third-party organisations has directly informed the world’s knowledge of and ability to protect whales in the wild."

Kandu V was reportedly involved in five incidents involving trainers in the years leading up to her violent death, including snapping one trainer's neck and trying to drown another.

In the latter horror attack at SeaWorld San Diego, California, on March 4, 1987, Kandu was filmed slamming into a young trainer along with another female, repeatedly dragging him to the bottom of the pool in front of spectators.

But her death became one of the most highly publicised incidents of her time at the park.

Kandu had always been the dominant female at the park and was extremely protective of her 11-month calf Orkid.

She resented Corky getting close to her daughter, and during the performance, she tried to "rake" her.

Raking is a common practice among killer whales in captivity and is a way they show dominance by forcefully scratching at one another with their teeth.

Very few rake marks have been found on wild orcas, possibly because the different groups are made to live and perform together.

At the time, SeaWorld vet Dr James McBain said that Kandu had engaged in a "normal, socially induced act of aggression to assert her dominance over Corky".

As she tried to ram the larger female, Kandu missed and ended up slamming into a wall, rupturing an artery and fracturing her upper jaw.

She quickly began spouting blood from her blowhole, and the crowd were quickly asked to leave.

Even a four-million-gallon enclosure is a tiny pool for killer whales because these animals in the wild swim over a hundred miles a day

Dr McBain said that at first, the trainers didn't realise that Kandu had been injured.

No other trainers were in the water when the fight occurred, according to SeaWorld officials.

About two minutes after the fight, both briefly chased each other in the main pool but didn't touch again.

At that point, trainers and spectators both noticed in horror that blood was streaming from Kandu's blowhole.

One trainer directed Kandu and her calf back to the holding pen, while another stayed with Corky.

The attack only lasted five seconds, but it took 45 minutes for Kandu to die from a haemorrhage.

She refused to leave her calf Orkid the whole time.

Corky suffered some superficial cuts in the attack but was otherwise unhurt.

After Kandu's death, Orkid was placed with Corky, and the pair remained close.

Trainers claimed Kandu and Corky had demonstrated aggressive behaviour towards each other since the latter was brought to the park from Marineland three years earlier.

Kandu, who weighed about 4,600 pounds, tried to assert her dominance over the 7,000-pound rival.

Killer whales have a social structure that is dominated by the females, and the only males allowed in a pod are transient breeders and babies.

On the fateful day of the attack, the two whales were in a holding pen behind the main pool midway into the 25-minute show.

Dr McBain said at the time that trainers saw Kandu charge at Corky with her mouth open.

As thousands of spectators watched on in horror, Kandu spouted blood from her blowhole, quickly staining the water and the sides of the tank.

"The altercation was initiated by Kandu. She was asserting her dominance by going after Corky with her mouth open," McBain told the LA Times at the time.

"It’s common behavior. For the survival of any species, the stronger animal has to rule."

He added: "The death was an unexpected shock, but the altercation was not a rare event at all. It was normal behavior."

Kandu's death was the second whale fatality at SeaWorld in less than a year.

In September 1988, Orky, a male whale who accompanied Corky when Marineland was bought by SeaWorld, died just three days after Kandu gave birth.

Afterwards, it was found that he had died of natural causes.

Kandu's death sparked further criticism about the keeping of captive orcas.

Benjamin Deeble, a Greenpeace activist from Seattle, said that the two should have been kept apart the moment their aggression towards each other became clear.

He also condemned the sizes of the pools the whales were kept in, blaming their aggression on the conditions.

"Even a four-million-gallon enclosure is a tiny pool for killer whales because these animals in the wild swim over a hundred miles a day," he told the New York Times at the time.

"An orca in captivity is like an eagle in a parakeet cage, except in this instance they maybe tried to put two eagles in a parakeet cage, and one dead animal is the result," he went on.

Ingrid Newkirk, then-director of Peta, said at the time: "These kinds of incidents draw our attention in the most ghastly way possible to the inappropriateness of the animals' living conditions.

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"It's absolutely wrong that the people who run these enterprises are really preying on people's interest and attraction to these rather exotic animals."

She added that spectators at shows are "unwittingly paying for more and more captures, more disruption of pods and family life, more loneliness and stress for the whales".

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