Killer Whale at Marineland appears to be ailing

Niagara Falls - Newly published photographs taken by Ontario Captive Animal Watch (OCAW), appear to show that Marineland's solitary killer whale 'Kiska', is in bad shape.

Suffering with teeth problems, a disintegrating dorsal fin and what appears to be a significant depression behind her blowhole, cetacean advocates believe that Kiska, who has spent the last 37 years in captivity at Marineland, Canada, is very sick.The solitary Icelandic orca who is now 42 years old, was captured in 1977 and hasn't seen another killer whale since a companion orca, Ikaika, was sent back to SeaWorld in November 2011.
For the last couple of years, dedicated activists who have visited her regularly, say they have watched the killer whale turn into the shell of what a killer whale should be.

Ontario Captive Animal Watch told Digital Journal that Kiska, "is exhibiting repetitive swim patterns, bobbing and floating. She seems to be unaware of her surroundings and is just simply existing to this point."

In the video above, recently recorded by OCAW and released today by the conservation group Fins and Fluke, Kiska is having her teeth flushed. Oral degradation in captive orcas is a common consequence of orca captivity that usually results in a drilling procedure called a modified pulpotomy.
Former Marineland trainer, Phil Demers, once reported that Kiska had never had her teeth drilled; many of them have ground down to the gum line.

In the OCAW video, former SeaWorld trainer, Dr. Jeffrey Ventre, addressed both Kiska's tooth issue and the depression noted behind her blowhole. Ventre explained:
When orcas lose weight, and are approaching death, they get what's called a "peanut head," due to the depression behind the blowhole.
Demers, one of several ex Marineland employees who in 2012, blew the whistle on poor conditions at the park, told Digital Journal that Kiska has been a broken whale for some time:
Kiska is terribly sick and lonely. Her spirit is certainly broken (has been since Athena died), and her physical health continues to decline. For as long as I can remember, Kiska has been on a wide array of medication, including antifungals, antibitotics and valium. We've witnessed all kinds of new cuts and abrasions surface on Kiska's body — no doubt from bumping and rubbing against the pool's sharp circumference.

DJ sent the photographs of Kiska to Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute. Rose said:
Kiska looks underweight in these photos. Her fin seems to have some kind of progressive condition – an infection that is causing the tissue to lose its integrity (I am not a veterinarian, but it looks gangrene-like to me). She is NOT in good condition.
With Kiska located in Canada, options for oversight are limited. Still, the US-based group Fins and Fluke, plan to push for some action on Kiska's behalf. President, Alex Dorer, is pressuring the Ontario SPCA to take action and said, "although we doubt that the OSPCA will do anything, we still feel that the public can express their distaste over Kiska's condition."
Dorer also plans to work with other groups to push the Canadian Government to update the standards of care to include marine mammals, even those privately held. "People and businesses are getting away with animal cruelty and without a governing body," she explained, "animals are suffering. It's time that the Canadian government stepped up."

Ontario Captive Animal Watch
Kiska. A depression behind an orca's blowhole can indicate significant health problems.
Like this imageIt's an issue that Phil Demers has been pushing to rectify since he left Marineland in August 2012. Despite facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit from Marineland owner, John Holer, Demers and his fellow whistleblowers, are hoping that Marineland's animals will get their day in court.
For now though, the retired trainer expressed his concern for Marineland's lonely killer whale. "In my experience, Marineland never euthanized a single dolphin or cetacean, most of which were taken out from public display to die in what can only be described as a terribly inhumane and drawn out fashion," Demers said. "Sadly, it appears Kiska's decline and inevitable death will be on display for all to see. I can't think of a less dignified death."
Digital Journal did contact Marineland to inquire about Kiska's condition, but has not yet received a reply.

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