World’s Loneliest Orca Dies After 40 Years In Captivity

Kiska, often referred to as the world’s loneliest orca, has died after 40 years in captivity. The animal’s death was announced by animal law organization Animal Justice on Friday, March 10. They now want MarineLand, the animal park in Niagara Falls, Canada, to be investigated for its treatment of Kiska over the decades she spent there.

Kiska, who was 46 when she died, was kept in a tank completely and utterly alone after being taken from her family near Iceland in 1979. She was then sold into the aquarium industry. Since 2011, she’s been isolated in a concrete tank with no other animals or anything to occupy her. According to the Whale Sanctuary Project, “When not swimming in slow circles, she often floats in place, staring at the emptiness that is the inside of her tank.”

She was the last captive orca in the entire country of Canada. And while Kiska had five babies throughout her life, all of them died young. The world’s loneliest orca truly had a terribly sad life.

Back in 2021, anti-captivity and animal rights groups began campaigning for Kiska’s release after footage showed her banging her head into the tank walls. Phil Demers, a former head trainer at Marineland, took a 30-second drone video earlier this year showing her floating lifelessly in the empty tank.

A national ban on keeping whales and dolphins in captivity passed in Canada in 2019. However, Kiska could never be released into the wild since she lived her entire life in captivity. Hopefully, the tragedy that was her life will ensure it never happens again.

“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,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, per CBC.

“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.”

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill