Killer whale named Kiska in Canada’s Marineland theme park, the country’s last captive orca to swim in its tank alone for more than a decade, has died.
Brent Ross, a spokesman for the Ontario Solicitor General’s Ministry which oversees animal welfare in the province, said Monday that the Niagara Falls theme park in Ontario notified the province of the death last week.
Kiska was 47 years old and was believed to have lived in Marineland since she was captured in Icelandic waters in 1979. She was captured together with Keiko, who became famous in the film “Free Willy”, and the couple lived together for a few years in Marineland. in the 80s. Keiko was sold to an aquarium in Mexico in 1985 and eventually ended up at SeaWorld in the U.S.
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Kiska has been appearing in shows at Marineland for years but hadn’t performed in over a decade. She spent that time in a large pool in Friendship Cove park, separated from a pod of belugas.
SeaWorld also discontinued its theatrical shows featuring orcas and ended its breeding program in 2017, meaning its current orcas will be the last generation of the brand in captivity.
Marineland park told the Niagara Falls Review newspaper that the killer whale’s health recently deteriorated “despite intensive interventions” by theme park employees and an international team of veterinarians.
Professionals hired by Marineland conducted an autopsy Friday in the presence of province officials, Ross said.
Marineland owner Marie Holer declined to comment.
In 2021, the province found there were problems with the theme park’s water system and ordered the repairs of the pools that are home to belugas, dolphins, walruses, sea lions and Kiska, court documents show. Marineland initially appealed the order, denying the findings, but later withdrew its appeal.
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The province has inspected the theme park 160 times since January 2020, but has declined to release the inspection results.
Christine Santos, who trained Kiska for 12 years until Marineland fired her in 2012, said she was shocked to hear the news of her death.
“But at the same time I’m really relieved that she’s not alone anymore,” Santos said.
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Kiska was calm and easy to work with, but also mischievous at times. At times she tricked new coaches into giving them “more fish and more rubs,” Santos said.