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Kiska, Marineland’s lone killer whale and last captive orca in Canada, has died



Kiska, a killer whale at Marineland and the last captive orca in Canada who has swam alone in her tank for more than a decade, has died.

The Ontario government said Marineland, a theme park in Niagara Falls, Ont., informed the province Thursday of her death.

The province had Animal Welfare Service Officers at the park Friday as Marineland performed a necropsy on the animal, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General said.

Marineland’s owner, Marie Holer, declined to comment to The Canadian Press when reached by phone.


The park told the Niagara Falls Review that the killer whale’s health declined recently “despite intensive interventions by her caregivers, Marineland’s veterinarian team and international veterinarians with expertise in supporting the health and well-being of cetaceans.”

Kiska was believed to be 47 years old and had lived at Marineland since being captured in Icelandic waters in 1979.

She was captured alongside Keiko, who became famous in the movie Free Willy, and the pair lived together for a few years at Marineland in the 1980s. Keiko was sold to an aquarium in Mexico in 1985 and eventually ended up at SeaWorld.

Kiska appeared in shows at Marineland for years but has not performed for more than a decade. She spent that time in a large pool at Friendship Cove separated from a pod of belugas.

Kiska gave birth to five calves during her time at Marineland, but they all died young.

She has swam alone since 2011 after SeaWorld won a bitter custody battle with Marineland over Ikaika, a young male killer whale it wanted back.

Christine Santos, who trained Kiska for 12 years until Marineland fired her in 2012, teared up as she looked at old photographs of the orca.

“I’m in shock, but at the same time I’m just really relieved she’s not alone anymore,” Santos said.

Kiska was a calm killer whale and easy to work with, she said.

“We just developed a special bond,” Santos said. “She was a good mama to her calves, especially Athena and Hudson.”

Kiska would keep an eye on the pair, making sure they didn’t cause trouble with each other or the other killer whale in the tank, Santos said. She also outwitted new trainers, tricking them into giving “her more fish and more rubs.”

Kiska also had a close relationship with another orca captured in Iceland in 1981, Nootka.

But her mood changed after Nootka and Kiska’s calf, Athena, died in 2008.

“She lost her best friend and her baby and you could see her sadness,” Santos said.

The deaths left Kiska alone with Ikaika, a young bull killer whale who was growing rapidly and full of sexual energy, court documents show.

But SeaWorld wanted Ikaika back and took Marineland to court, a case it ultimately won. The orca, known as Ike to Marineland staff, moved into SeaWorld’s park in San Diego in 2011.

Kiska has swam alone ever since.

“In my last year you could see her decline and her behaviour changed,” Santos said. “She lost that spirit, that happy-go-lucky way about her.”

Phil Demers, a former Marineland trainer turned activist, received drone footage two weeks ago that showed Kiska had moved to a smaller pool, which he described as the medical pool.

That pool has a shallow area that would allow staff and veterinarians to examine her closely by dropping the water levels.

“It’s just sad, she unfortunately never had a chance at a second chance to move away from Marineland.”

The group Humane Canada issued a statement about what it called Kiska’s heartbreaking life and death.

“Humane Canada is saddened and outraged by the passing of Kiska – also known as the “loneliest Orca in the world,” it said.

“This news is heartbreaking to everyone who has spent years advocating for her freedom and release.”

Social media videos in recent years have shown Kiska thrashing her head at the side of the pool.

Ontario’s Animal Welfare Services has been conducting an inspection at Marineland since July 2020 over concerns about the park’s water.

In 2021, it found all marine mammals to be in distress due to the water, court documents show.

Marineland refuted those findings, saying its animals were not in distress.

The inspection remains ongoing three years later.

Brent Ross, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Solicitor General that oversees animal welfare in the province, said it has inspected Marineland 160 times since January 2020.

The province refused to provide details of those inspections.

But court documents filed in 2021 showed the province ordered Marineland to repair the water system in the pools that house beluga whales, dolphins, walruses, sea lions and Kiska.

Marineland appealed the order on May 18, denying the animals were in distress and noting that an unknown number of whale deaths at the park were not related to the water issues. Marineland dropped its appeal.

A number of animals have died at Marineland in recent years, including four walruses and an unknown number of beluga whales.

In 2021, Marineland moved five beluga whales to a marine park in Connecticut. One of those whales died within months of the move and another died within a year of the move.

The deaths prompted the U.S. government to begin an investigation into the move. That probe remains ongoing.

Last week, Marineland moved its last two walruses, Smooshi and her daughter, Koyuk, to a new SeaWorld park in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

In 2019, the federal government passed an anti-captivity law that made it illegal to import and keep killer whales captive, although Kiska was grandfathered in.

She will likely be the last captive killer whale ever kept in the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2023.


World Down Syndrome Day in Canada – CTV News



The Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) is sharing a new awareness campaign featuring photos of older people with Down syndrome.

The ‘Here I Am’ photo gallery was launched today, to mark World Down Syndrome Day, and showcases portraits of older Canadians living with the condition.

“People age 40 and over are hugely underrepresented in all aspects of media, social media pictures, they’re just not visible,” Laura Lachance, executive director of CDSS told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday. “So we embarked on this campaign to bring these faces to the front.”


According to the organization, the life expectancy of Canadians with Down syndrome has doubled in the past 40 years, from 25 years in 1983, to more than 60 years in 2023.

“What’s changed is advances in medical technology, both in diagnostics and in treatment,” Lachance said. “So a lot of children who used to die in their early years are now surviving, taking advantage of all the interventions and living a long healthy life.”

Although many are living into adult life, Lachance said the challenge of finding caregivers who understand Down syndrome remains.

“As more of the Boomer parents are living longer, there’s going to have to be some kind of initiative by employers to perhaps take a look at how they can support their employees who need to take time away from work or work differently in order to care for their loved one,” Lachance said.

The photo gallery features only people over the age of 40 who are living with Down syndrome. The portraits were captured by Hilary Gauld from One for the Wall and CDSS.


Hear the full interview with Lachance by clicking the video at the top of this article. 

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Russia summons Canadian diplomat to protest 'regime change' statement – CBC News




Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it had protested to Canada’s top diplomat in Moscow over comments by Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly about “regime change” in Russia.

Russia called Joly’s comments a ‘Russophobic attack’

A white woman sits at a table and prepares to speak at a government hearing.
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, seen on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 9, 2023, has been criticized by the Russian government for comments about ‘regime change.’ (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it had protested to Canada’s top diplomat in Moscow over comments by  Foreign Minister Melanie Joly about “regime change” in Russia.


The ministry said it summoned Canadian charge d’affaires Brian Ebel on Monday and told him Joly’s comments were unacceptable.

Canadian media quoted Joly as saying at a news conference on March 10: “We’re able to see how much we’re isolating the Russian regime right now — because we need to do so economically, politically and diplomatically — and what are the impacts also on society and how much we’re seeing potential regime change in Russia.”

The Russian statement condemned the “Russophobic attack” and said it would have serious consequences for relations. Russia reserved the right to take “appropriate counter-measures” depending on Ottawa’s further steps.

Canada, a member of NATO and the Group of Seven (G7) leading economies, has joined its Western allies in imposing sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

On Friday, it welcomed the International Criminal Court’s move to issue arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his children’s commissioner over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia since the start of the war.

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Worst city in Canada for bed bugs revealed | CTV News – CTV News Toronto



A Canadian city has just been named the worst in the country for bed bugs for the third year in a row. 

Orkin Canada, a pest and wildlife control services organization, revealed in a release Tuesday that Toronto was the city in which it carried out the highest number of commercial and bed bug treatments in 2022.

Following Toronto in second is Vancouver, B.C. then Sudbury, Ont. in third.


London, Ont., which went unranked in 2021, is new to the list this year, clinching the eighth spot in the top 10 “buggiest” cities in the country in 2022

Ontario dominated the top 10 list with a total of eight cities across the province being ridden with bed bugs, including Oshawa, Ottawa, Scarborough, Sault Ste. Marie, London, and Hamilton.

“Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, but are excellent at hiding. Involving a trained professional to identify bed bugs that have been introduced or are in the early stages of an infestation is recommended,” Dr. Alice Sinia, a Ph.D. Entomologist at Orkin Canada, said in the release.

“Bed bugs are extremely resilient, making them difficult to control. As people begin to ramp up their travel plans this year, it’s important they know how to protect themselves through pest identification and proper control.”

Sinia explains bed bugs can hide in taxis, buses, trains, and airplanes, so travellers should regularly check their clothes and luggage for any unwanted passengers.

To avoid a bed bug infestation while travelling, Orkin recommends the SLEEP method – survey your hotel room for any bed bug symptoms, lift and search typical bed bug hiding spots like mattresses and underneath cushions, elevate your luggage, examine your personal items, and place your clothing in the drier for up to 45 minutes on the highest setting.

At home, Orkin recommends decluttering your space, and thoroughly inspecting second-hand furniture for dark ink-like blot marks or whitish egg clusters.

These are Canada’s 25 “bed buggiest” cities, in order:

  1. Toronto, Ont.
  2. Vancouver, B.C.
  3. Sudbury, Ont.
  4. Oshawa, Ont.
  5. Ottawa, Ont.
  6. Scarborough, Ont.
  7. Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
  8. London, Ont.
  9. St. John’s, N.L.
  10. Hamilton, Ont.
  11. Winnipeg, Man.
  12. Montreal, Que.
  13. Windsor, Ont.
  14. Edmonton, Alta.
  15. Timmins, Ont.
  16. Moncton, N.B.
  17. North York, Ont.
  18. Etobicoke, Ont.
  19. Calgary, Alta.
  20. Mississauga, Ont.
  21. Whitby, Ont.
  22. Prince George, B.C.
  23. Regina, Sask.
  24. Brampton, Ont.
  25. Halifax, N.S.

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