'Shame on Marineland': 'World's loneliest orca' Kiska dies, ending tragic era of captivity in Canada
After 11 years in solitude, Canada's last captive orca dies amidst calls to 'prosecute Marineland'
Kiska, also known as the world's loneliest orca, has died at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ont. on March 9.
"The ministry was advised by Marineland that the whale named Kiska passed away at Marineland on March 9, 2023. A necropsy was conducted by professionals retained by Marineland," Brent Ross, a spokesperson of Ontario's solicitor general wrote in an emailed statement to local press.
She was believed to be 47 years old.
"Marineland's marine mammal care team and experts did everything possible to support Kiska’s comfort and will mourn her loss," the theme park said in a statement to local media.
Rest in peace, Kiska ❤️ You’re free now.
📽 @walruswhisperer pic.twitter.com/1H7wdOFTpM
— PETA (@peta) March 10, 2023
Kiska was captured at three-years-old in North Atlantic waters, alongside another orca named Kieko, star of the 1993 film Free Willy.
While Keiko was rehabilitated and moved back to familiar waters off the coast of Iceland, Kiska was moved around several North American aquariums before being transferred to her final home at Ontario's Marineland.
During her captivity at Marineland, Kiska gave birth to five calves, all who tragically died shortly after birth. Since 2011, Kiska was held in solitariy confinement, thus earning her the nickname 'the world's lonliest orca.'
Orcas, known to travel in pods are social animals. Videos began emerging of Kiska floating listlessly in her tank or bumping her head repeatedly against the tank wall — a toll solitary confinement was having on the mammal.
UPDATE: We have more heartbreaking video of Kiska, MarineLand’s last surviving orca floating listlessly at the surface of her concrete pool. She has lived in complete isolation since 2011. Witnesses say she often calls out for other orcas. #FreeKiska pic.twitter.com/TWyw9x781B
— Phil Demers (@walruswhisperer) July 16, 2021
"We are calling on provincial authorities to make public the results of a post-mortem, and prosecute Marineland for the unlawful distress Kiska clearly experienced throughout her final years," Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice told CBC News in a statement.
Kiska's passing also marks the end of orcas being held in captivity across Canada, due to a landmark bill being passed in Canadian legislation during 2019, which bans whales, dolphins and porpoises from being held in captivity. Anyone found in violation of this bill would face up to a $200,000 fine.
Nothing fantastic ever happens in a hurry. But today we celebrate that we have ended the captivity and breeding of whales and dolphins. This is news to splash a fin at. #bills203 #emptythetanks #cdnpoli Thank you everyone. pic.twitter.com/7j49YkEmpy
— Humane Canada (@HumaneCanada) June 10, 2019
An exemption of the bill was not enough to free Kiska — marine mammals already held would be allowed to remain in captivity.
Kiska's passing resulted in an outpouring of tributes posted to social media from animal activists and organizations, to members of the public who wanted to share their response.
Kiska, “the world’s loneliest whale” and the last captive orca in Canada, has died.
After being captured from the wild in 1979, she spent her life in various marine parks before ending up at Marineland, where she spent the last twelve years of her life in solitary confinement. pic.twitter.com/Tl05iiRrlN
— World Animal Protection US (@MoveTheWorldUS) March 11, 2023
Devastated to hear Kiska has died 💔
I feel rage. All her offspring dead, all alone in a tiny swimming pool.
Shame on Marineland 🤬 … and all those who think it’s ok to keep marine life that way. #RIPKiska #freeKiska pic.twitter.com/tIjzeV3jlN
— Jenny McQueen (@VegJen) March 10, 2023
Kiska had five calves and outlived them all. After the death of her youngest calf Athena in 2009, and the transfer of her last tank mate Ikaika to SeaWorld in 2011, she was alone at Marineland. pic.twitter.com/oncem3pphR
— Jenna Moon (@_jennamoon) March 10, 2023
Gosh, I am completely gutted and devastated by Kiska the orca's death.
Working as an animal rights lawyer means a lot of sad stories, but this one is hitting especially hard. She deserved so much better than decades in a tiny tank. What Marineland did to her is unconscionable.
— Camille Labchuk 🇺🇦 (@CamilleLabchuk) March 10, 2023