Why? Why Kiska?
“For Man Cannot Give Wild Animals Freedom, They Can Only Take It Away.”
I’ve been trying to write this for a while. I have already done a blog on Kiska’s history and her story, but there was no passion, there was nothing from my heart. Her story is sad and horrifying, and I will never be able to get past her life. All I want for her is to get her happy ending. To be free from the concrete tank where she is merely existing.
Why does this single animal mean so much to me? Why does she mean so much to others? And, what does she mean to Canada?
Obviously I cannot answer for other people who love and fight for her, but I will take a guess that their reasoning isn’t that different from my own.
Kiska has been an inspiration. She’s a reason to never give up no matter how tough life gets. To never give up on her, and to never give up on myself. She has fought so hard to live, even if it’s just in that tank. She is still fighting the heartbreak from watching all five of her babies die before the age of six.The loneliness she feels. Watching tank mate after tank mate die or be taken away to another park. She’s had to fight for space against other orcas she didn’t get along with. Fight through losing the only person, her former trainer, who paid attention to her and genuinely loved her. She has not given up on herself, so why should we?
There are a lot of us who haven’t given up. We trudge on for her, to make things better. To do right by her. There are some amazing people right down in the trenches fighting for her in Canada’s Federal Government system, and those same people fought for her in the province in which she is trapped in. I am very lucky to call these incredible people my friends, and that is because of Kiska.
There are times that I feel that I haven’t been able to do more for her. I don’t have the means to up and leave and go to our nation’s capitol with my friends to stand before our Government. But I really wanted to be there. It killed me that I couldn’t. I’ve battered through depression because I feel that I’m not doing enough for Kiska, that she deserves more from me. There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by where she isn’t on my mind, or that I’m not racking my brain for some way to bring her story to a wider audience, or get someone who has a huge public following to come on board and be her voice along with us. There isn’t a time where I am laying in bed, not thinking about her. I’m always thinking of her, of what I can do for her. I’m always left with, it’s not enough. Kiska deserves so much from me.
Kiska has inspired passion. Passion that reignited my love for orcas. I’ve never stopped loving these amazing animals. I fell in love with orcas when I was seven years old. It’s funny how life just gets in the way and although you never stop loving them, you just don’t have the time to pay attention. But it was Kiska, and her former trainer, Christine, who were able to bring back my passion. Another former trainer, Phil, came forward in the summer of 2012, exposing Marineland in a newspaper, and that was the catalyst which brought me to the fight. Both who I need to give credit to. Both have put a lot on the line. I’ve known Phil for some time now, and I’m so proud of the work he’s done, for the risks he has taken. I just recently met Christine for the first time in January, after attending a court hearing with my amazing friends I mentioned above, and I was in such awe of her. I went back to being shy, and just couldn’t get over how in awe I was. I really wanted to talk to her to get to know her more, and hear stories of her life with Kiska. I got to see that she’s a beautiful, bright, caring, and funny person in the brief time that I got to sit down with her. I so do admire her and her courage. I am notorious for chickening out, in person, when it comes to sharing my feelings. Both Christine and Phil have had it rough, yet they’re still standing and fighting. Kiska and Christine are two very strong, and very courageous females.
Courage is Kiska. She shows that every single day that she’s stuck in that concrete prison. Her courage is all the tragedy that she has endured; being kidnapped away from her family in Iceland, watching all of her babies die, being alone with no tank mates for the past six years. Courage comes with dealing with the painful dental procedures every day. She has no teeth left from dealing with the stress of captivity, and now, what’s left of her teeth, need attention for health reasons. This one animal, is dealing with so much stress that wild orca do not have to endure. Kiska is still there, swimming endless counter-clockwise circles in her pool, everyday. With no shelter from the hot sun, nothing to stimulate her mind except the occasional rubber tire on bungee cords that a trainer may or may not put in for her to play with, she doesn’t vocalize, she doesn’t jump or do tricks. No family. Just a rotating door of trainers and strangers who gawk at her. How is this living? How heartless does one have to be, to think that this is OK? To just turn a blind eye to this amazing, beautiful and majestic animal? How can anyone look at her and not feel sadness, heartbreak, and anger? It baffles me. The excuses from certain people, sicken me.
What does Kiska mean to Canada? Everything.
She represents change. Change that has happened, change that is happening, and, hopefully, future change on a global scale.
In the spring of 2015, Ontario passed Provincial Bill-80, banning the importation, exploitation and breeding of Orcas in Ontario. A ban that was inspired by Kiska, but unfortunately did not include her. It’s not over for her yet. There are physical (non-Internet) petitions going around to have the Bill amended to include her.
It doesn’t stop there. Currently a Federal Bill, S-203, is being presented and read in the Senate to ban all whale and dolphin captivity in Canada. This Bill isn’t just about Kiska, but she is the main reason, and inspiration behind it. Because of her, all captive held dolphins, and countless beluga whales, and any other whales being held in the two main captive facilities in Canada, will all have a chance, and the end of the captive whale and dolphin industry will end. It’s still ongoing, and nothing is passed yet, but I am very hopeful.
What about the future? Kiska may not ever see complete freedom, but I am hopeful, yet cautiously optimistic, that she will see and feel the ocean one day. That she will get to live out her life feeling the tides change, the mysterious world below her, hear other whales and dolphins, feel the fresh air that isn’t tainted with chlorine. That she will, indeed, get her happy ending.
Kiska is an inspiration to keep fighting. To fight through the hard times, because there is hope. There are people fighting either for or along side you. To never give up yourself, or on others. To keep passion. To be courageous. To make, and force change. This is Why Kiska. This is why I need to keep on fighting for her.
“I Prefer Dangerous Freedom Over Peaceful Slavery”
-Kiska was captured in 1979, at the age of approximately 3 years old, and sold to Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada in 1980.
-She has had 5 calves; *Her first calf, died just 2 months after he was born. *Kanuck, her second calf, died at the age of 4. *Nova, died at the age of 4 years and 9 months. *Hudson was her longest surviving calf who died at 6 years of age. *Athena, was her last calf, and only daughter, and she died in the spring of 2009 at the age of 4 and a half years old.
-Sea World loaned 4-year old Ikaika to Marineland in 2006 for breeding with Athena. However, out of concern for his mental and physical health, Sea World ordered to have Ikaika returned. Marineland refused to comply, so Sea World took them to court and won. Ikaika returned to Sea World San Diego in November 2011.
Kiska has not seen another orca since then. She has spent 6 years completely alone.
-Kiska is the ONLY orca to live 100% alone in the entire world. It is illegal, and considered cruel in most countries to keep an orca alone. Orcas are highly social animals, who live in complex social groupings. Only two other orcas, Lolita and Kshamenk, live without another orca, however both have dolphin companions living with them.
-Kiska has no teeth, as she has grounded them down from chewing on the sides of her pool. A common practice done by orcas in captivity due to high stress from living in an unnatural environment.
-Kiska is the ONLY orca held in captivity in all of Canada.