Kiska, the Orca dubbed the “World’s Loneliest Whale,” died recently after 44 years in captivity. Her life was a tragic one, and her death could be seen as a sort of release. She was believed to be 47 years old, although her exact age isn’t positively known. She was the last captive Killer Whale in Canada.
In 1979, when Kiska was three years old, she was caught in Icelandic waters and taken to MarineLand, a theme park in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Kiska was captured along with Keiko, the whale made famous in the movie Free Willy, and for a few years in the ’80s, the pair shared a pool. Kiska spent 40 years there, swimming in a concrete tank.
For the last 12 years of her life, Kiska was alone in her tank. Orcas are social animals that live in tight-knit pods, hunting together and communicating with each other. Her tank at MarineLand was bare and featureless, and her depression was caught on film recently in a hard-to-watch video that went viral.
Kiska’s death comes four years after Canada passed bill S-203, banning the captivity and breeding of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises. Although the new law was too late for Kiska – individuals already in captivity were excluded from protection – activists say her story was instrumental in drawing public attention to the plight of captive marine mammals.
In one of the last recorded videos of her, she drifts listlessly in aquamarine water as a boy behind the glass wall tries to get her attention. “Kis-kaaa! Kis-kaa! Kis-kaaa!” he calls as the Whale floats by, seemingly oblivious.
The heartbreaking footage below shows Kiska floating listlessly and hurling herself against the walls of her cramped tank. This unnatural behaviour was the result of stress, frustration, distress, and loneliness caused by cruel confinement.
Kiska’s harrowing story is not unique – around the world, Orcas just like her are languishing in marine parks so that humans can gawk at them and watch them do demeaning tricks.
Help end their suffering. Speak out against the exploitation of Whales and Dolphins in tourism.
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