They can be almost ten meters tall and weigh ten tons: killer whales. Tens of thousands of them are estimated to be at home in the world's oceans, but not all. Known as the world's loneliest whale, Kiska spent decades in a Canadian theme park pool. Now the orca is dead.
According to official information, Kiska died on Thursday and an autopsy had been carried out. In the past few weeks, the health of the marine mammal has deteriorated. In a statement, which was picked up by local media, Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, said caregivers and experts alike did everything they could to ensure Kiska's well-being and "mourn her loss." Kiska was about 47 years old. Female orcas living in the wild live on average between 50 and 80 years
Kiska lived in Marineland for more than four decades. The whale was caught in Icelandic waters in 1979 along with Keiko, who was made famous by the film Free Willy. The whales were housed together in the amusement park for a few years, and Kiska has lived alone in the facility since 2011. She was the last whale legally allowed to live in captivity in Canada.
"World Animal Protection is heartbroken by the death of Kiska, Marineland's last living orca, but thanks to changes in federal legislation, Kiska will be the last orca living in captivity in Canada," quoted CityNews Everywhere Michele Hamers, World Animal Protection's Wildlife Campaign Manager.
Orcas have been kept in captivity since 1961. Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) estimates the number of killer whales caught in the wild at at least 166. 130 of them are now dead. The number of orcas still living in captivity is estimated at 54, of which were killed 25 caught in the wild, 29 born in captivity. Kiska gave birth to five calves during her time at Marineland, all of which died young.
"It is heartbreaking to know that Kiska will never have the chance to be relocated to a whale sanctuary and experience the freedom she so desperately deserves," Animal Justice executive director Camille Labchuk said in a statement. The non-profit force campaigns for the protection and rights of animals and is now demanding that the results of the Wales' autopsy be made public. "We demand justice for what Kiska suffered at the hands of Marineland," Labchuk continued. The amusement park should be prosecuted for the unlawful torment Kiska endured in her final years.
Kiska has been a part of the park's attractions and has performed in shows for many years. However, the whale had been in "retirement" for more than ten years. In December 2021, regional police charged the theme park with keeping dolphins and whales for entertainment despite a national ban. In late 2022, the charges were dropped.
Quelle: Reuters, CBC, WDC, CityNews Everywhere