Nanuq, an older Wild Arctic Beluga Whale, has reportedly died while in captivity at SeaWorld Orlando.
The whale, which was on a long-term breeding loan from Vancouver Aquarium, was an estimated 31 or 32 years old, the Orlando Sentinel reported. He lived in containment with three other Beluga whales.
SeaWorld, which has theme parks in Orlando, San Diego and Texas, faces ongoing criticism about keeping whales in captivity.
The cause of death is not known. The Sentinel reported that an exam is scheduled, but results of the exam will not be known for six to eight weeks.
Nanuq had been under treatment by park veterinarians for a jaw injury that happened during an "interaction" between two animals "that were part of a compatible social group," SeaWorld said. No further details were provided.
"It really is one of the worst times this kind of news could come out," Scott Smith, a University of South Carolina assistant professor who teaches hospitality courses, told the Sentinel.
"Any other time, it probably wouldn't even make a blip on the radar, but now everyone is watching SeaWorld."
SeaWorld has been under the microscope by animal rights groups and the public at large for its treatment and confinement and treatment of whales, particularly its symbol, Shamu.
In 2013, the release of "Blackfish," a documentary about SeaWorld's treatment of killer whales, further put the company under scrutiny. The film indicated life in captivity may have led to the death of Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.
Attendance has declined and the company's stock value has plunged. Chief Executive Officer Jim Atchison announced his resignation in December. SeaWorld's board has not named a replacement.
Last summer, the company said it would increase the size of its orca habitats at its three SeaWorld parks. The San Diego SeaWorld project was expected to be finished in 2018.
Animal Welfare Institute marine mammal scientist Naomi Rose told the Sentinel that in the wild, a broken jaw from contact with another animal seems unlikely.
SeaWorld said life expectancy for Belugas is about 30 to 35 years.
According to WOFL-Fox 35, Nanuq was moved last June from SeaWorld's San Diego park in hopes of expanding Orlando's beluga family. Fox 35 dubbed the whale "Orlando's most eligible Beluga bachelor."
SeaWorld's Wild Arctic attraction includes a motion simulator followed by a display of Belugas, harbor seals and walruses. A polar bear named Johnny lived there until its unexpected death in July, the Sentinel reported.
It is not known how the death will affect at least one of the Orlando park's programs. SeaWorld has a Beluga Interaction Program it promotes on its website.