A female orca named Kohana died at the Loro Parque marine park in Tenerife, Spain, making her the third killer whale to die at that park in the last 18 months. Kohana was the daughter of Tilikum, who was the subject of the groundbreaking documentary exposing SeaWorld called Blackfish. Kohana was just 20 years old.
In March 2021, a 17-year-old orca named Skyla died, followed by a three-year-old orca named Ula, who died in August 2021. Kohana dying at the age of 20, along with these other killer whales, is heartbreaking as killer whales can live for up to 80 years in the wild.
Kohana was born in captivity in San Diego at SeaWorld. She was sent to Tenerife on a breeding loan when she was just three years old. Kohana was sent with her sister, brother, uncle, and other close relatives that she would not naturally breed with in the wild.
Kohana gave birth at just eight years old and became the youngest orca to have ever given birth in captivity. Even more heartbreaking, the calf was fathered by Kohana’s uncle. In the wild, orcas do not begin mating until 14 or 15 years old. She had a second calf years later and rejected both of them. Her second calf died at just 10 months old.
Orcas are highly social animals. In the wild, they live in tight matrilineal pods, typically composed of their grandmothers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Even when they reach sexual maturity, both male and female orcas typically choose to remain with their immediate family group for the rest of their lives.
The popular documentary Blackfish, which explored the tragedy of captive whales in detail, helped to reduce attendance at marine mammal parks and led SeaWorld to announce that it would stop breeding orcas. However, many of these whales remain in captivity, where they continue to suffer.
This article by Hailey Kanowsky was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 19 September 2022. Lead Image Source : Peter Etchells/Shutterstock.
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