'World's Loneliest Orca' in Captivity Showing Signs of Mental Distress

This harrowing footage shows a lonely killer whale circling its tank and thrashing around, having outlived its friends and offspring.

Kiska, dubbed the "world's loneliest orca," circled the perimeter and splashed water over the walls of her isolated tank at MarineLand Park in Niagra Falls, Ontario, Canada. The footage was filmed in June 2022.

The orca is said to have been captured in Icelandic waters in 1979, and has been in captivity ever since. Kiska, who is approximately 45-years-old, has survived all of her tank mates and her five calves, activists say.

Researchers and activists believe her behavior is a result of her damaged mental and physical health and well-being from prolonged captivity. SWNS reached out to MarineLand Park for comment.

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Video grab of Kiska the isolated orca circling the perimeter and trashing water over the tank walls with her body, in her tank at MarineLand Park in Niagra Falls, Canada, in June, 2022. Kiska has been dubbed the 'world's loneliest orca', after outliving its friends and offspring. Matthew Newby/SWNS/Zenger

MarineLand has had 26 orcas pass through its tanks since it opened in 1962, with 20 of them dying there and the rest either traded or given away to other establishments.

Despite being well-known as social animals that thrive in groups, Kiska remains isolated from any other animal.

Former MarineLand employee-turned-activist Phil Demers, 44, who worked at the park for 12 years, said: "Kiska is MarineLand's last surviving orca. She was captured in 1979 in Icelandic waters and has been at MarineLand ever since.

"Her mental and physical health are deteriorating and as seen in the video, she repeatedly swims around her pool in the exact same way, even stopping briefly in some shallow water to shake erratically.

"Experts call it "zoochosis." Orcas are social animals and need to be with their families, or at the least, with others of their own species. For Kiska, her isolation is torture. Sadly, Kiska's fate is largely sealed at MarineLand as she is their property, and as no viable seaside sanctuaries exist, her future is heartbreakingly bleak."

Demers became a whistleblower and went to the media to expose what he said was wrongdoing by MarineLand a decade ago.

A walrus named Smooshi was the inspiration for his fight against the park and he has named his campaign "Save Smooshi."

Demers said: "I left MarineLand in 2012 because of ongoing issues that were grossly affecting the animals' well-being and was being ignored for too long.

"I had to quit my job to force change, but it came at a price. MarineLand sued me in 2013 for $1.5m for plotting to steal a walrus. Our trial starts October 3. Finally. It's no mistake MarineLand has made me jump through impossibly expensive legal hurdles throughout the last decade.

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Video grab of Kiska, the isolated orca circling the perimeter of her tank at MarineLand Park in Niagra Falls, Canada, in June 2022. Activist's attribute Kiska's behavior to her mental state due to prolonged captivity. Matthew Newby/SWNS/Zenger

"Thankfully, with the support of the public who have largely covered my legal bills, I'm now in a position to force MarineLand into court. I've been and remain clear, if they want to walk away from the trial, they must release my walrus.

"I'm just here fighting for a happy ending. My mission only ends once Smooshi and I are reunited. Until then, I systematically and methodically continue to destroy MarineLand.

"There is no other plan."

Produced in association with SWNS.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.