Three orcas have died within the space of 18 months at a popular zoo and marine park in Tenerife. Not one survived longer than 20 years, and the youngest was just two years old.
In the wild, female orcas can live up to 90 years old, and on average, they reach about 46 years. But in captivity, due to the unnatural environment, the animals often suffer premature deaths.
Last week, an orca named Kohana died at the age of 20 at Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain. In the last 18 months, orcas Skyla and Ula also died. The former was aged 17 while the latter was two.
Since 1961, when humans first started capturing orcas and using them for entertainment in marine parks, around 171 orcas have died in captivity, reports Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC).
The reality behind captive orcas
Loro Parque claims it is an “animal sanctuary” with “educational presentations” about orcas.
However, PETA claims that past investigations into Loro Parque found Kohana and other orcas with fractured teeth, floating “listlessly” in small tanks with rake marks, which were likely caused by attacks from other orcas.
Kohana began her life at SeaWorld, another marine park that is constantly criticized for its treatment of captive orcas. (Right now, it is facing potential criminal charges for housing incompatible animals together, which leads them to aggressively attack one another.)
She was the daughter of Tilikum, the main orca in the 2013 exposé Blackfish, who killed three trainers. The documentary also covers the death of Alexis Martinez, a Loro Parque trainer who died from his injuries after he was attacked by an orca named Keto.
Keto is still listed as a performing orca on Loro Parque’s website, which notes he will “impress you” with his “jumps and skills.”
In 2011, former SeaWorld trainer Jeff Ventre said: “Killer whales don’t attack humans in the wild. What we’ve seen in these injuries to people is a direct byproduct of the stress associated with captivity.”
Alongside Keto, Loro Parque is currently home to three other performing orcas, Morgan, Tekoa, and Adán.
A petition seeking to shut down the park has gathered more than 231,000 signatures. To add your name, click here.