Kiska (orca)

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Sex: Female

Location of capture: Ingólfshöfði, Iceland

Date of capture: October 1979

Age at capture: Approx 3

Captive at: Marineland Canada

Date of death: March 9, 2023

Reported cause of death: Bacterial infection

Age at death: Approx 47

Years in captivity: 42


Kiska at Marineland Canada
Kiska at Marineland Canada. See more pictures of Kiska on Inherently Wild

In October 1979 a group of 6 Orcas were captured in Iceland before being transferred to the Hafnarfjörður Aquarium. Here they were trained, their health assessed and put up for sale.

A young female, later known as Kiska, was purchased by Marineland Canada along with others. It is unclear exactly which whales she was transferred with, however, as the records from Icelandic captures were often non-existent or sources constantly conflict with one another. Although there is photographic evidence of her at Marineland with a male named Keiko.

When Kiska arrived at the park she met the resident whales Knootka and Kanduke. Later she met Nootka V and Kandu VII as well as a number of other whales throughout the years. Like the other orcas she performed in the King Waldorf Theatre for many years until the construction of Friendship Cove was finished in 1998 when she was moved there with the other adult whales.

While the whales in Friendship Cove were technically retired they still participated in petting and splash sessions with the public although Kiska no longer performed in these sessions.

In 1992 Kiska gave birth to her first calf, a small unnamed male. He died about 2 months later due to unknown causes although it was rumored that Kiska drowned him due to him suffering respiratory problems.

Kiska gave birth to her second calf, another male known as Kanuck, in 1994. He appeared healthy and spent some time with his mother but was later moved to the “warehouse” - an indoor pool devoid of natural sunlight and fresh air. He was kept here for a time and reportedly died in 1998 due to traumatic shock.

In 1996 Kiska gave birth to her third calf, another male who was known as Nova. He was born in the King Waldorf Theatre but was soon moved, with other calves, to the warehouse due to overcrowding in the stadium. When Friendship cove was finished, he was moved there with a few others and was reunited with his family. However, Nova died in August 2001 due to pneumonia and starvation. [citation needed]

Hudson, Kiska’s fourth calf, was born in 1998 and was the first calf to be born in Friendship Cove. He made friends with his half-brother Algonquin and the two spent a lot of time together. However, when Algonquin died in 2002 Hudson became less active, and Nootka V, Algonquin’s mother, became unusually aggressive towards him. Hudson died suddenly of meningitis in 2004.

In 2004 Kiska gave birth to her fifth calf, her first daughter, who was named Athena. All of Kiska’s calves were sired by the Icelandic male Kandu VII. Athena was close to Kiska and often copied her behaviors.

By 2006 Nootka V, Kiska, and Athena were the only Orcas at the park until SeaWorld sent one of their young whales, a male named Ikaika, to Marineland. Unfortunately, Nootka V died in 2008, followed by Athena in 2009, leaving Ikaika as Kiska’s only companion. The two were often separated, as Ikaika would harass Kiska, he was moved back to SeaWorld San Diego in 2011 after a lengthy custody battle between SeaWorld and Marineland.[citation needed]

While Marineland has long been criticized over the care of all of their animals Kiska has been the main focus for many activists mainly due to her health and solitary state. In July 2014 a park guest photographed Kiska showing her dorsal fin possibly deteriorating as well as a large indentation directly behind her blowhole. Since 2013 there was also been ongoing concern after a video was recorded by another park guest, showing Kiska bleeding from her tail.

In January 2015 Ontario’s local government announced a proposed massive overhaul of conditions for captive marine mammals, including a ban on the acquisition and sale of orcas. The proposed changes stem from a 125-page report from a team of scientists led by David Rosen, a marine mammal expert from the University of British Columbia. A technical advisory committee will draft new standards. [citation needed]

On June 10, 2019 Canada’s House of Commons passed Bill S-203 banning whale and dolphin captivity preventing any new cetaceans from being bred there and preventing others from being imported ending thus ending captive cetacea in the country.[1] The whales and dolphins currently confined at Marineland, including Kiska, were exempted from these laws because it was believed they would not survive in the wild.

Kiska was dubbed as the “loneliest whale in the world” as she lived at Marineland alone with no other animals for companionship. [2]

In September 2021 video footage showed Kiska appearing to slam her head and body against a glass wall in the cramped tank she was kept isolated in at Marineland.

Marineland Canada announced Kiska died of a bacterial infection in March 2023.[3] Following her death Animal Justice, a Canadian animal law advocacy organization, renewed calls for charges against Marineland over the cruel and illegal living conditions that Kiska had to endure.[4]

Under federal and provincial laws, it’s illegal to cause animals suffering and distress, which includes psychological distress stemming from boredom and isolation. Camille Labchuk, Animal Justice. [4]

Videos of Kiska

Take action for Kiska

Prosecute Marineland for Kiska’s Death - Take Action! Animal Justice

See also

List of deceased captive orcas

List of living captive orcas

Captive Animal Deaths 2023

Category:Captive Cetacean

Category:Captive Animals

External links

Heart-breaking moment ‘world’s loneliest orca’ Kiska swims round in circles and bangs head in ‘torturous’ tiny tank The Sun

Kiska, known as the world’s loneliest orca, has died at Marineland

Kiska’s Gallery Inherently Wild

Captive animal births, deaths & capture calendar