KILLER whale Kiska – dubbed the world’s loneliest whale – died age 47 after living a “tortured existence” in captivity for decades.
Tragic Kiska was captured in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Iceland in 1979 when she was just two-years-old.
Kiska was alone for 12 years after outliving her tank mates, including her five babiesCredit: Twitter/@WALRUSWHISPERER
Kiska swimming in her tiny concrete tank at MarineLand in CanadaCredit: Reuters
Kiska was seen thrashing against the side of her tank at MarineLandCredit: Twitter/@WALRUSWHISPERER
She died at MarineLand in Canada in March this year after outliving her five babies.
Kiska was first taken to an aquarium in Iceland where she lived with four other young orcas, including Keiko – who starred in Free Willy.
Shortly afterwards, Kiska was sold, along with Keiko, to MarineLand.
She spent the last 12 years of her life completely alone in a tiny tank, and heartbreaking footage showed her shaking and smashing her head against the wall.
Animal rights group PETA described Kiska as the “world’s loneliest orca” whose life was marked by “tragedy after tragedy” after all five of her calves died before they were seven years old.
Kiska became MarineLand’s last orca in 2011.
Animal activist and whistleblower Phil Demers said Kiska’s life is “best described as a living nightmare”.
Phil became a whistleblower and went to the media to expose what he claimed was wrongdoing by MarineLand a decade ago.
He said Kiska died a “slow and shameful” death in her concrete tank.
“Kiska’s conditions ranged from tiny tanks, to grossly compromised and deteriorating ones,” he told The Sun.
“In 2012, as a whistleblower of animal cruelty, I revealed water issues at the park.
“Today, that water is harming and even killing the remaining whales and dolphins as more than 25 have died at MarineLand since 2019.
“Kiska’s life can be best described as a living nightmare. She had a tortured existence.
“Watching her deteriorate over the past decade was gut wrenching to watch.
“We tried desperately to bring enough attention and will to rescue her, but sadly MarineLand refused to release her.
“Her death was slow and shameful.
“I feel someone should be held accountable for her life and death.
“As the owner of MarineLand has passed away, the new controlling mind is a lawyer with no animal experience whatsoever, and it’s showing. The park is now decrepit.”
MarineLand has had 26 orcas pass through its tanks since it opened in 1962 – with 20 of them dying there – the rest were traded or given away to other establishments.
Despite being social animals that thrive in groups, Kiska was left isolated from any other animal, not even another orca.
Distressed Kiska was frequently filmed swimming around in circles after spending more than a decade alone in her tank.
Researchers and activists believe her behaviour was a result of her damaged mental and physical health and wellbeing from prolonged captivity.
Phil, who co-founded NGO UrgentSeas, worked at MarineLand from March 2000 to May 2012.
He ran into trouble when he launched his “Save Smooshi” campaign to re-home a beloved walrus he worked with at the park.
MarineLand filed a £1.2million lawsuit against Phil for trespassing and planning to kidnap the 800lb walrus in 2012.
Phil filed a counterclaim for defamation and abuse of process.
Following negotiations, both agreed to drop the legal action and re-house Smooshi and her calf Koyuk to a new location.
“MarineLand sued me for millions back in 2012 for my animal abuse allegations, but I successfully defended their decade of legal assaults to manage to negotiate the release of my walruses,” Phil said.
“My hope with our advocacy campaign is to highlight the plight of individual whales with the aspiration of retiring dolphins and whales back to the ocean and ending their senseless captivity.
“We shouldn’t accept animal suffering nor should we remain quiet about it.”
The Orca Rescues Foundation said Kiska “suffered the loss of her freedom, her babies, and all of her tank mates”.
Following her death, lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, said: “It is heartbreaking to know that Kiska will never have the chance to be relocated to a whale sanctuary, and experience the freedom that she so deeply deserved.
“While no other orca will have to suffer the cruelty of captivity in Canada again, we are demanding justice for what Kiska endured at the hands of Marineland.
“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.”
MarineLand said Kiska’s health had declined before she died.
The theme park said: “Marine mammal care team and experts did everything possible to support Kiska’s comfort and will mourn her loss.”
Back in March, Brent Ross, a spokesman of the Canadian province’s solicitor general ministry, said MarineLand has been inspected 160 times since January 2020 as part of Animal Welfare Services’ work to ensure the standards of care are being met under the law.