Legal complaint launched against Marineland after viral video showing depressed orca

Following the recent release of a video that showcases the heartbreaking plight of Kiska the orca, considered the most famous — and lonely — animal at Marineland in Niagara Falls, a non-profit organization has filed a legal complaint against the zoo for its treatment of the creatures it houses.

Animal law advocacy group Animal Justice announced on Wednesday its formal submission of a complaint to provincial authorities in which it demands "an investigation into the conditions endured by Kiska, an orca who has been held by herself at Marineland for a decade."

It notes the video, which was posted by a former Marineland trainer and has gone on to accrue hundreds of thousands of views and renewed ongoing calls to relocate Kiska to a sanctuary and even close down the 60-year-old attraction altogether.

The orca has has been living in complete isolation in a concrete pool since 2011 after being captured off the coast of Iceland some 30 years prior, and has been shown for years to be in poor physical and mental condition that has only worsened with time.

She is Marineland's last survivng orca and the last captive orca in Canada, as well as the only captive orca in the world who lives without any companions, as the species is extremely social and intelligent.

Her treatment and condition hav been called into question on many occasions in the past, while the park has also been condemned for dozens of animal deaths, unsanitary water and other poor conditions.

Earlier this month, new information emerged from an ongoing inspection by Animal Welfare Services that confirmed the animals in the brand's care are living "in distress" due to poor water quality.

"It's heartbreaking to watch Kiska languish in a tiny tank without companionship, and keeping her in these conditions may well violate animal protection laws," Animal Justice's executive director said in a release about the legal action.

"In Ontario, it’s not only illegal to cause physical distress or suffering to an animal — it’s illegal to cause psychological distress, too. The two new videos of Kiska raise serious concerns that her physical and mental needs are not being met, and we are calling on provincial authorities to launch an urgent investigation and do everything in their power to help Kiska."

Though Canada passed the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act in 2019, it applies only to keeping, breeding and trading new whales, dolphins and porpoises for entertainment purposes, not those already in captivity.

It remains to be seen what tangible action, if any, will result from the strong response to the latest videos of tragically dispirited Kiska.

Lead photo by

Phil Demers

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