Kiska’s life can be described in one word. Pain.
Kiska was captured off the coast of Iceland when she was just 3 years old. She has been in captivity for 37 years, she has given birth to 5 calves that, due to the conditions, have died. The eldest lived until the age six.
Her first calf was born August, 24, 1992. It was an unnamed male and died October, 25, 1992. He died of drowning.
Next was a male named Kanuck, born August 28, 1994. He died four years later in 1998. He was seperated from Kiska and kept in a warehouse. He died of traumatic shock.
Her third calf was a male named Nova, born November, 6, 1996. He died five years later August 20, 2001, of starvation and pneumonia.
Her fourth calf was a male named Hudson. Of the calves he lived the longest. He was born September 15, 1998. He died six years later October 20, 2004. He died of meningitis.
Her final calf was a female named Athena. She was born October 8, 2004. She died four and a half years later in Spring 2009 of untreated infection.
In the wild the lifespan of a female orca is 50 years and a male is 30, and there have been orca’s documented to live long beyond that in the wild. Because of the conditions at Marineland Kiska has lost 5 calves, the eldest lived until the age 6.
Kiska’s health has also been at risk since her time in captivity at Marineland. Back in October, 2012 there was an article posted in the Toronto Star that said Kiska’s tail had been bleeding for months. According to Christine Santos, head trainer for 12 years at Marineland, this bleeding had been occuring since July of that year, and had been getting progressively worse.
Santo’s was later fired. Upon leaving she was asked to sign an agreement that said she did not see any animal abuse at Marineland. She did not sign as she did not agree with the statements.
At this time the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquiariums (CAZA) was concerned about the water quality in three of the pools at Marineland, stating that there was “an impact on the well-being of the animals, ”
In recent years, Kiska dorsal as well as blow hole show signs of collapse. This is a condition known as “peanut- head” which is a distinctive shape of the head, caused by fat loss in the neck. Marineland denied any of Kiska’s health concerns.
Unlike other aquariums, Marineland is privately owned, meaning that there are no shareholders. In order for any changes to be made it is entirely up to the owner John Holer. John Holer has been documented, uttering threats to protesters, and even petty name calling. It is unlikely he would open his mind to the idea that the animals are suffering. John has denied many statements of his establishment causing harm to the animals physical and mental well being.
Since 2011, Kiska has lived in complete solitude. Kiska’s last companion was a bull orca named Ikaika. He was on loan from SeaWorld in an attempt to breed, and removed in 2011 after a battle between SeaWorld and Marineland. SeaWorld was concerned about the conditions in which the whales were being kept, and the physical and mental well being of Ikaika. Kiska has lived in isolation since. Orca’s are highly social mammals, and it is illegal in the United States to keep them in solitude. However here in Canada there have been no laws to protect Kiska. Until recently.
The proposed laws are a step in the right direction. Many of the articles regarding the recent proposition take a particular focus to Kiska. Many people can empathize with her lonliness, and pain. The new laws will ensure that not other orca in Ontario will suffer a similar fate. Marine parks in Ontario will no longer allowed to breed, capture or sell orca’s in Ontario.
It is still too soon to start celebrating, as these are only propositions. They have not been passed yet. It is a step in the right direction, and lets not stop there. Let’s keep pushing forward and end all marine mammals in captivity. Dolphins, sea lions, the belugas. If we can agree that we can not supply adequate conditions for an orca, what makes us think that concrete pools are suitable for other marine mammals. The fate of the belugas, dolphins, sea lions and other marine mammals looks grim unless we keep sharing Kiska’s story and pushing forward with demands.
Unfortunately for Kiska, these laws will not bring her companionship or freedom. If passed she will be the last orca in Ontario to suffer in captivity, but her story could spark a change for future orcas, belugas, dolphins, walruses, sea lions, and all marine mammals in captivity in Ontario.
Let’s end all marine mammals in captivity !
Please sign the petition below and help the animals of Marineland !
Please sign the petition below to help end marine mammals in captivity in Ontario !