‘The Loneliest Orca in the World’ has Died
Marineland in Ontario, Canada, announced ‘Kiska’, their last orca in captivity , died on March 9, 2023, marking the end of orca captivity in Canada. She was captured in Icelandic waters in 1979 alongside Keiko, who became famous in the movie Free Willy, and the pair lived together for a few years in the 1980s. Kiska lived at various aquariums before winding up in Niagara Falls and giving birth to five calves, all of which died at young ages. Orcas are extremely social animals but Kiska spent the last 12 years of her life in solitary confinement. According to witnesses she often called out to other orcas and was frequently seen swimming in circles or floating listlessly at the surface of the concrete pool.
In 2019 Canada’s Parliament passed the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, and an amendment to the Criminal Code passed in 2019 made it an offence for cetaceans to perform for the public. Despite the law, Marineland was allowed to continue keep Kiska on a grandfather clause that granted the park an exemption. In December 2021 the theme park was charged with unauthorized use of animals after videos emerged of Kiska bashing her head and body against her tank’s walls, gaining millions of views on social media. Investigators for the Niagara Regional Police believed that the park violated the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, however, in December 2022, Crown prosecutor Michal Sokolski decided to drop the charges claiming it was “not in the public interest” to prosecute.
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