Farewell to a Legend: Remembering Kiska, the World's 'Loneliest Orca'

Cha Miñoza
Kiska the Orca swimming in MarineLand.
Twitter | Phil Demers

Kiska, who has been dubbed the "world's loneliest orca", died on Friday at Marineland in Ontario, Canada. The 47-year-old female orca was in captivity for almost 40 years before succumbing. Her heartbreaking story came to light back in 2021 after a viral video exposed that she was slamming her head against the side of her tank.

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Marineland Statement

Killer whale show in a theme park.
Unsplash | Joseph Stalin

The Niagara fall theme park shared with St. Catharine's Standard that Kiska's health has been declining for weeks before her death.

They Did Everything Possible

Killer whale swimming in water.
Flickr | ro_mac

“Marineland’s marine mammal care team and experts did everything possible to support Kiska’s comfort and will mourn her loss,” they said in a statement.

Bacterial Infection

PETA, who has been closely involved with Kiska's case, reported on their website that the orca died of bacterial infection.

Captured At Three

Family of orcas swimming in the sea.
Flickr | dante0864

Kiska was captured in 1979 in the North Atlantic waters, alongside another orca, Kieko, who later starred in Free Willy. She was only three years old when she was separated from her family and taken into captivity.

Keiko Was Rehabilitated

Orca whale doing tricks during a show.
Flickr | nflravens

Keiko was rehabilitated and successfully reintegrated into the waters of Iceland, while Kiska ended up being moved around several North American aquariums. She was finally transferred to Marineland in Ontario, where she spent the next decades in isolation.

Kiska Had Babies

During her stay in Marineland, she gave birth to five calves. Unfortunately, all of her babies died before they were seven years old due to unknown reasons.

Alone Since 2011

Kiska used to have a tankmate, Ikaika, who was shipped back to SeaWorld San Diego in 2011. She has been alone and lonely since then.

Slamming Her Head

In 2021, Kiska made news after video footage showed that she was slamming her head violently against the side of her tank. The video sparked outrage from the public, leading to various animal welfare groups fighting for her freedom.

PETA Filed A Legal Complaint

"We've shared the footage with prov. authorities, who're investigating our legal complaint about the mental suffering we fear she's enduring," PETA shared on Twitter.

Floating Listlessly

In another video, the orca was recorded floating listlessly on the surface of her pool. According to witnesses, she sometimes can be heard calling out for other orcas.


Twitter commments
twitter | Phil Demers

Kiska's videos went viral on social media and sparked the #freekiska movement. People were shocked by the heartbreaking videos.

The Park Was Investigated

There was an investigation following the viral videos and the theme park was charged with unauthorized use of animals.

In Violation

Investigators for the Niagara Regional Police believe that Marineland violated the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act.

NRPS Statement

Two orca whales jumping out of the water.
Flickr | bebopbee1

“During the investigation, it was found that dolphins and whales were utilized for entertainment purposes during the month of August, without being authorized to do so following an amendment to the Criminal Code under Bill S-203 on June 21, 2019,” explained NRPS.

Many Fought For Her Freedom

Animal advocates fought for her freedom for over a decade but no changes were made. The park has maintained that Kiska was well taken care of during her time there.

Animal Cruelty

Orca whale doing a show.
Unsplash | Joseph Stalin

Although the park has been under fire for the mistreatment of its animals before, prosecutors didn't pursue filing animal cruelty charges.

Swimming In Circles

In Kiska's last known video footage before her death, the lonely whale can be seen swimming in circles in her tiny tank.

Calls For Re-Investigation

Calls for re-investigation have been made by Animal Justice and countless animal welfare advocates in light of Kiska's death.

RIP Kiska

Kiska was the last captive orca in Canada, as laws have been placed to ban captivity. Her death marks the end of whale captivity in the country but several orcas are still being held in U.S. theme parks and elsewhere all over the world.

RIP Kiska.