The lone killer whale kept at a theme park for more than a decade is now dubbed the ‘solitiest orca’ in the world. Experts think a sanctuary is the best place for her.
MarineLand amusement park and theme zoo in Niagara Falls, Ontario is home to the killer whale known as Kiska. After being imprisoned for 43 years, she has been alone in her baccalaureate for the past 11 years.
While in captivity, Kiska gave birth to five calves, all of which lived short lives. The one who lived the shortest lived only two months, and even the one who lived the longest lived only six years. In the wild, killer whales normally live 30 to 50 years; however, when kept in captivity, their lives are much shorter.
Orcas and their social life
The high intelligence and complex social structures of killer whales are well known. One of the greatest and most sophisticated minds in the animal kingdom belongs to them.
A 2019 study said they rank third among species of aquatic mammals known as cetaceans, which include whales, dolphins and porpoises, which are kept in aquariums as well as marine theme parks. in different corners of the world. The study looked at the negative impacts of keeping these animals in captivity.
In concrete tanks, killer whales are kept in large numbers around the world. Many of them, like Kiska, have been held captive for years, even decades.
The study authors say there is growing evidence that wild-caught captive orcas and those born and bred in captivity cannot survive in such unnatural conditions.
According to the study author, orcas in captivity exhibit a variety of abnormal behaviors and frequently die at young ages due to infections and other diseases that are rare in nature. They claimed that because the animals were housed in concrete tanks, they could experience chronic stress.
Lori Marino, the founder of the Whale Sanctuary Project, said none of the whales can thrive despite “vast” individual variations in how each survives years in a concrete tank. Marino is also the author of the study.
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Marino said some captive orcas, like Kiska, live longer than average, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s healthy. Killer whales are very social animals, but Kiska has lived alone for 11 years. It is the equivalent of torture.
Marino went on to say that Kiska had five children, all of whom died before reaching adulthood. Given how much orcas value their family relationships, especially those between mothers and young, this experience for her was likely very traumatic.
She claimed that Kiska had been swimming in a specific area of her enclosure and wiggling her body there for years, which is stereotypical or otherwise known as abnormal repetitive behavior.
Stereotypes are always related to stress. They are prevalent in emotionally disturbed orcas as well as other animals, and they are a symptom of neural damage in specific areas of the brain.
Kiska’s teeth are also worn down to the gum line. Cetaceans kept in captivity, such as killer whales, frequently exhibit this oral stereotypy. His physical condition is not well understood as MarineLand is secret about it. His well-being is very low.
In 2019, Canada passed historic Bill S-203, which prohibits the breeding, keeping and trade of cetaceans for entertainment purposes. An exception are cetaceans already in captivity, such as Kiska, who was about three years old when she was taken captive to the Icelandic Sea in October 1979.
According to the nonprofit Orca Rescue Foundation, killer whales are not meant to live alone. They depend on each other not only for their survival, but also for their emotional and mental health. People who have watched her over the years have described her as having an indifferent, listless, and repetitive demeanor.
She frequently floats to the surface and circles her empty tank in the opposite direction. Its teeth – or lack thereof – are said to be in the worst condition of any orca held in captivity.
100 acre sanctuary in Nova Scotia
Marino and other animal welfare supporters now hope that Kiska can sooner rather than later be retired and transferred to a 100 acre sanctuary in Nova Scotia being built by the Whale Sanctuary Project for captive beluga whales and killer whales. The sanctuary aims to have its first occupants move in by the end of the coming year, according to Marino.
According to Marino, Kiska’s future life in the sanctuary – or any real cetacean sanctuary – would be very different from an exhibit in a concrete tank.
In terms of a natural ocean environment where she would have room to swim as well as a sophisticated natural environment to interact with, the sanctuary would give Kiska more of what she needs as an orca. She wouldn’t have to deal with the general public, and the welfare of the orca would be the sanctuary’s top priority, Newsweek reports.
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