|February 25, 1996
|Cause of death
|Septicemia and bacteremia associated with endomyometritis
|Medallands Bugt, Iceland
|< 1 year
|October 25, 1976
Kenau stayed at the Dolphinarium for a short time, but Gudrun remained there for 11 years. The park didn't purchase any more orcas after 1978, so Gudrun's only companions were smaller dolphin species.
In 1987, Gudrun was sent to SeaWorld Orlando on a "breeding loan" when she reached sexual maturity. However, she faced issues soon after her arrival.
At SeaWorld, the park's dominant female, Katina, repeatedly showed dominance over Gudrun through physical aggression. SeaWorld also started breeding Gudrun almost immediately.
Gudrun was placed in a back pool with the park's male orca, Kanduke, who relentlessly chased her and engaged in forced mating. This resulted in Gudrun becoming pregnant with her first calf, a female named Taima.
Taima, born in 1989, was named after the Native American term meaning "crash of thunder." Initially uncertain of Gudrun's mothering abilities due to her time spent with Bottlenose Dolphins, officials were impressed as she proved to be a competent mother. Within a year, Gudrun and Taima were performing together in Shamu Stadium.
Gudrun had distinctive markings and a straight dorsal fin, making her ideal for shows and promotional materials. Even when heavily pregnant, she was asked to participate in slide-out presentations where children could sit on her back for photos. Unfortunately, this put excessive pressure on the unborn fetus.
When Kanduke died in 1990, he was replaced by an Icelandic male orca named Tilikum in 1992. Staff at the park had witnessed Kanduke's mistreatment of Gudrun and were relieved to see a more positive interaction between Gudrun, Taima, and Tilikum. Katina, however, continued to harass Tilikum unless she was in estrus.
Gudrun and Tilikum spent considerable time together and were described as having a harmonious relationship. Even their mating behavior was observed as calm and peaceful, in stark contrast to Gudrun's experience with Kanduke.
However, on December 31,1993, Gudrun gave birth to her second calf, Nyar, a female who displayed physical and mental issues. Gudrun rejected Nyar and attempted to drown her multiple times before staff intervened and separated them.
Nyar made little progress and suffered from Immunosuppression. She couldn't participate in shows and spent time with her father, Tilikum, who treated her gently.
Almost immediately after Nyar's birth, Gudrun became pregnant again in 1994.
On February 21, 1996, Gudrun went into labor, but the park's veterinarian couldn't detect a pulse in the calf and presumed it was dead. Gudrun had been in labor for some time and was unable to expel the calf naturally. To assist, staff moved her to the medical pool, drained the water to immobilize her, and manually removed the calf using a cable. Throughout this process, Gudrun experienced severe hemorrhaging and immense pain. Dehydration caused her dorsal fin to collapse, and she refused to eat or interact with people. To protect her from the sun, SeaWorld staff applied zinc oxide to her back.
After the bleeding stopped, Gudrun remained motionless in the same spot for four days as caretakers did their best to help her recover.
On the fourth day, Gudrun finally moved and swam slowly towards the gate where Nyar was watching. Gudrun gently nudged Nyar through the gate, seemingly seeking forgiveness.
A few hours later, on February 25, 1996, Gudrun died due to complications from her stillbirth, including septicemia and bacteremia associated with endomyometritis.