Everything she does, she does alone. Marineland’s Kiska has been called the ‘loneliest killer whale in the world’, and shows signs of distress

Demers, the critic, said the difference this time around is the accessibility of smartphones that allow anyone to search the animals under the park’s care. It is not unusual, he said, for people to send him videos they have taken. This year, Demers decided to share some of them.

Demers said in a telephone interview in October that the images have gained “enormous” traction. As of this writing, the images of Kiska Demers posted on Twitter in September have been viewed nearly 800,000 times. On YouTube, the videos have amassed nearly 200,000 views. The message, Demers added, is clear: “They want it removed.”

People holding protest signs with words like Torture Tanks, Making time from 79 Free Kiska, Whale Cemetery and More Attractions No Animals, line the street in front of Marineland.

Protesters lined the street in front of Marineland in Niagara Falls this summer to protest against the captivity of animals. Julie Jocsak / TorStar

But is #FreeKiska feasible? Marineland has publicly opposed moving the orca, arguing that doing so could kill it. So what do you do with a 45-year-old killer whale?

At this point, a debate breaks out, and Kiska’s defenders argue that she should be moved to a coastal sanctuary. A group fighting for the release of captive cetaceans has come up with plans for a seaside sanctuary and hopes to one day care for it in its natural habitat, but there is a long way to go before it is completed and fully approved. Burns, Marineland’s attorney, contends that there is currently no such facility anywhere in the world. Certainly, at this time there is no sanctuary in Canada that is ready to embrace it.

Organizations like the Whale Sanctuary Project (WSP) are looking to change that. Lori Marino, a neuroscientist who studies the brain of cetaceans and appeared in the documentary “Blackfish,” is co-founder and president of the project. The sanctuary, he said, could offer a safe haven for Kiska. While the project is still in the permitting process and faces funding hurdles, several experts Star interviewed agreed that it would be the best case for her if it could be completed.

On its website, a blog post written by WSP CEO Charles Vinick says that the organization is “confident that (by) working with Marineland or the government or both, we can find a solution so that she can start a new life in a natural environment. “

A wide expanse of water with an island and the coast in the distance.

The Whale Sanctuary Project, located off the coast of Nova Scotia, expects the facility to be operational by late 2022 or early 2023. A visitor center for the future site opened in October. Courtesy of the Whale Sanctuary Project

The project would see 100 acres sectioned off the Nova Scotia coast for previously captive cetaceans, with room for up to eight beluga whales and two or three orcas, Marino said. The whales in the sanctuary would not be reintegrated into nature, but would instead be cared for by an on-site veterinary team that would carry out health checks on the animals. The space would add an enrichment that captive cetaceans do not currently have, he added: access to their natural habitat.

When asked to comment on a possible dialogue between Marineland and the WSP, the park did not respond. Marineland has previously expressed her fear of relocating Kiska, writing in a 2015 press release that relocating her to a “substandard facility run by well-meaning but extremely incompetent extremists is simply cruel to her, disorienting, and will undoubtedly kill.” her. “Marineland also noted the presence of pathogens in seawater and her” old age “as a risk.

Shot in the head of Phil Demers

Phil Demers

Former Marineland staff

What is best for Kiska is still unknown. “

Proponents of the project have called for an independent and objective panel of scientists, veterinarians and animal welfare experts who can evaluate Kiska and see if she could withstand a move to shore. Marineland and other parks often move their animals around the world with success, says Giles, the wild killer whale researcher. “What is best for Kiska is still unknown, because professionals outside of Marineland must make a proper assessment and determination of what is best for her,” Demers said.

The Whale Sanctuary Project expects to see the facility operational by late 2022 or early 2023. A visitor center for the future site opened in October.

In a perfect world, Visser said, Kiska should head to the shrine. There is a problem, he added. This is not a perfect world.


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