'Height of cruelty': Concern for captive orca's welfare as video surfaces

·News and Video Producer
·3-min read

Video showing the world’s only solitary captive orca floating “listlessly” in her tank has renewed calls for her to be relocated into a sea pen so she can feel the ocean once again.

Posted to Twitter by activist Phil Demers this week, the footage shows Kiska inside her tank at Canada’s MarineLand where she has been confined since 1979.

For over a decade, Kiska has lived alone in her tank. 

Video showing Kiska floating alone in her tank has been posted to Twitter. Source: Phil Demers
Video showing Kiska floating alone in her tank has been posted to Twitter. Source: Phil Demers

The short 35-second clip has been viewed over 107,000 times and attracted more than 250 comments, with most of them concerned about the orca's situation.

“This is heartbreaking and makes us all extremely sad,” wrote one person after viewing the video.

“This makes me ashamed to be a human,” said someone else.

Activists concerned about orca's behaviour

A former employee of MarineLand, Mr Demers has been sued by the park as he continues to advocate for its closure.

Speaking with Yahoo News Australia this morning from his home in Canada, Mr Demers said he posted the footage because he has growing concerns about Kiska and the other animals at the park.

“Every animal there right now is subjected to conditions for which they're having a hard time surviving,” he said.

“So watching these animals in real time, fade and potentially die is awful.”

Another long-time campaigner against the park is Ontario Captive Animal Watch president Carly Ferguson, who describes Kiska's conditions as "the height of cruelty".

Having spent six and eight hour stretches observing Kiska, Ms Ferguson said the behaviour seen in the video, known as “logging” occurs when Kiska momentarily stops stereotypic circling of her tank.

“She has a very distinct, repetitive pattern that she very rarely breaks,” she explained.

“She will swim always in a counterclockwise direction and just circle the tank, circle the tank, circle the tank.

“Once she gets to one spot in the tank she’ll smack her fluke, and continue on her circular path around the tank.”

Expert wants to see Kiska transferred to sea pen

Leading marine mammal scientists Dr Naomi Rose has visited MarineLand a number of times and observed Kiska’s behaviour firsthand.

Describing the orca’s mental health as “highly questionable”, she said her physical health is also “probably harmed”.

“She has absolutely no stimulation in that environment and the way she's managed, is not helping that,” she said.

“Where she is, she doesn't even have any shade in that enclosure. It's really completely unnatural.”

Kiska has spent over a decade living alone. Source: Supplied / Dr Ingrid Visser
Kiska has spent over a decade living alone. Source: Supplied / Dr Ingrid Visser

Dr Rose’s preferred options for Kiska is that she be “retired” to a whale sanctuary that is being constructed at an inlet at Nova Scotia.

“(Kiska) might be alone still, but that wouldn't be anything new,” she said.

“She would have the opportunity to be in natural surroundings to be more stimulated.

“There'd be birds, there'd be fish, there'd be sounds that are more natural, there’d be the surf.”

MarineLand has been contacted for comment.

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