Kotar is one of more than 50 orcas captured off the coast of Iceland for the aquarium industry from the mid-’70s until the end of the ’80s. Aquarium owners wanted orcas that were small in size, and Kotar was only about a year old when he was wrestled from his mother in October 1978. A total of 11 young orcas were taken from Icelandic waters that year, and Kotar is quite possibly the youngest orca ever to survive capture.
Shortly after capture, Kotar was shipped from Iceland to SeaWorld San Diego, United States and put to work in the amusement giant’s petting pool. In 1981, SeaWorld sent him to Orlando to perform there, and seven years later, in 1988, SeaWorld transferred him to San Antonio where he performed until his death.
In 1983, Kotar played “Shamu” in the American horror movie ”Jaws 3-D.” He fathered three surviving offspring during his years in captivity: His daughter Takara, born in 1991, still performs at SeaWorld San Antonio. His first son Keet, born in 1993, performs at SeaWorld San Diego, and his second son Keto, born in 1995, performs at Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain, alongside Kotar’s grandson Adán.
Kotar passed away on April 1, 1995. According to several online sources, he died from trauma and blood loss when a metal gate that separated two pools came crashing down on him and crushed his skull.
Featured image: Kotar, SeaWorld, credit: acj_34, InherentlyWild