Necropsy performed on SeaWorld killer whale - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Necropsy performed on SeaWorld killer whale

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - It's business as usual Wednesday at SeaWorld, but behind the scenes workers continue to wonder just what happened to the park's 12-year-old killer whale.

Just one day after Sumar died unexpectedly in a SeaWorld tank, the Shamu show was back.

"The whales were doing fine, and they had five of them in the water this show," a visitor said.

SeaWorld declined to talk on camera about the death of its 12 -year-old male, but officials told News 8 Sumar did not have a history of health problems. They're hoping to get answers in a few weeks from a necropsy set to be performed Wednesday.

"They'll go through and take a sample of the organs, and they're going to do testing for viruses. Some of them they'll test for bacteria. They may test it for other chemicals -- a poison, something like that," UC Davis wildlife veterinarian Joe Gaydos said.

Gaydos investigates orca deaths, but is not involved in Sumar's case. We asked him how a seemingly healthy whale could suddenly die a good 20 to 30 years prematurely.

"Obviously something went wrong. Did it get a virus like West Nile? Did it eat a poisoned fish? Did it seem fine, but it turns out it hit its head?" Gaydos said.

SeaWorld says after the necropsy is completed it will offer up Sumar's remains to universities and labs for research. SeaWorld says the remaining parts will be disposed of following state health regulations. It's not uncommon for whales to end up in the Miramar landfill.

Sumar was a popular player in the Shamu show. SeaWorld says his death was a blow to trainers, who cancelled shows Tuesday to concentrate on saving Sumar's life. But those very same trainers were back in the water Wednesday and hid their grief from SeaWorld's guests.

"The trainers are professionals. I've seen the show every week for the past two years and they're a great team, and the whales did a terrific job," visitor Rick Grunsky said.

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