During a follow-up visit to Canada’s Marineland, activist Phil Demers recorded a dramatic video showing the orca Kiska violently banging her head against the edge of the tank she is imprisoned in, due to suffering, stress and loneliness. . Kiska has been living alone since 2011 and is nicknamed the “loneliest killer whale in the world”. It has been in captivity for 40 years, ever since it was captured in Icelandic waters.
The orca Kiska bangs its head against the tub. Credit: Phil Demers
L’orca Kiska, a female of about 45 years, lives alone in the water park Marineland in Canada sin dal 2011, since her last and temporary tank mate – a young male named Ikaika – was transferred to the SeaWorld of San Diego, in the United States. It has remained the only one ever since marine mammal in captivity of North America completely alone; it is no coincidence that it is nicknamed “the loneliest killer whale in the world”. If you already deprive of the freedom and of dignity any one animated it is an act despicable, against an orca it is a real atrocity; these cetaceans, among the most animals social e intelligent of the planet (killer whales are basically big dolphins), in fact live in numerous family groups – a matriarchal guidance – throughout their existence, squeezing ties which according to biologists could even be stronger of those who are established in our species. In this horrendous condition for a decade, Kiska has been overwhelmed by stress, from the loneliness, from the girl and from the lack of stimuli, pushing himself to repetitive behaviors, immobility and also self-harm, as shown in a new dramatic video circulated on the net in recent days.
In the terrible images, filmed by the animal rights activist Phil Demers and spread on Twitter, one can observe Kiska while slams violently the right side of the head against the glass and the wall of his narrow vasca, which she has been forced to call home for decades. This is clearly a gesture unnatural for a cetacean, symptom of a deteriorated mental condition and reached the limit of endurance. During the COVID-19 pandemic, because of lockdown for some months we have experienced (at least in part) the concept of “imprisonment” within the four walls of the house; imagine the same treatment given to an animal for decades with one complex social structure, accustomed to freedom and to vastness dell’Ocean, deprived of everything that makes it so noble e marvelous. The result is a nightmare, a barbarism. If cetaceans had their own concept of inferno, they would probably see it just like that. Isolated, confined to a cramped space and deprived of deep blue. And the fault is ours alone, ours cruelty and infinity greed.
“Since 2011, Kiska has been living alone in her concrete tank. No family member swims alongside him. No friend invites her to play. It has the cruel distinction of being the only orca in captivity in North America kept in social isolation from any other marine mammal. Video footage and eyewitness accounts describe his behavior as repetitive, unmotivated and lethargic. When he is not swimming in slow circles, he often floats in place, staring into the void that is the inside of his tank “, wrote The Whale Sanctuary Project, an organization created to donate a new life to cetaceans forced to live in captivity.
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The goal is the release of Kiska (and other captive cetaceans) in a sanctuary, where he will be able to return to savor the ocean as in his childhood. In fact, the whale was born free, in the Icelandic waters back in 1976; it was captured in 1979 and transferred to the Hafnarfjörður Aquarium. Shortly thereafter it was bought by Marineland and moved with some companions in misfortune to Canada. Over the next few years they all died or they were transferred. Kiska, in her terrible existence as a prisoner, had five children, but they all died at an early age; the longest lived only six years. The last daughter, Athena, left her in 2009 when she was only five years old. There suffering and the pain tried by this cetacean in the course of its life are unimaginable, and now everything possible must be done to help it regain its freedom, in a sanctuary and if it will be possible even in the open sea. It is believed that killer whales can live in the wild up to 90 years, while in captivity many younger die. Time is therefore short and his health conditions are worrying, as the new video also shows. To give a new life to the loneliest orca in the world, a petition has also been launched on change.org, which has already reached 130,000 signatures.