March 31, 2023

Heartbreaking and Inexcusable: An Orca’s Legacy

You may have heard the news earlier this month that Kiska, the world’s loneliest orca, died after 40 years in captivity.

The solace I take in Kiska’s death is that she is no longer suffering and the knowledge that no orca will ever endure a similar fate in Canada — Bill S-203 made sure of that even if it excluded Kiska and other animals already locked away behind Marineland’s walls.

Image credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media

Kiska’s life at Marineland was a tragedy, heartbreaking and inexcusable. It’s also a life shared by many animals in Canada who are exploited for profit.  

Marineland is unique in being the only business in Canada to use cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) for entertainment, but animals of all shapes and sizes are used in Canada’s entertainment industry to drive revenue. We see it in the abysmal zoos littered throughout Ontario. It’s in the regularly scheduled cruelty of the Calgary Stampede. It’s in Canada’s weak policies for animal import and export.

Where do we go from here? There are still many animals in captivity at Marineland that are exploited to fuel tourism to the park, however there is a glimmer of hope in recent news. Smooshi, a walrus with a similarly notorious history as Kiska, was recently transferred to SeaWorld Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates and Marineland is looking to sell the business. A change in ownership doesn’t guarantee improvements for the animals at Marineland, but it at least opens the door for the possibility of change.

As individuals, the age-old adage of voting with your wallet remains ever relevant. Not supporting businesses that profit from animal exploitation is a good step, but Kiska’s heartbreaking life story shows us that there is still more to be done.   

May Kiska rest in peace, and may her legacy remind us that animals have no place in the entertainment industry.

Wild animals belong in the wild.

Sharon Miko

President & CEO