Sad news earlier this week concerning the last wild-caught Orca at Marineland Antibes, France, as my friend and colleague Samantha Goddard reports in this guest blog:
“It has been very sad to hear the news that Freya, one of the six orca at Marineland Antibes in France, had died. Freya may not have been the first orca to have died in captivity but, being the only one to have died so far this year, it has caused me to think about not just the death of a captive animal but also the death of a captive life.
Freya was a wild-caught orca, captured from Icelandic waters in 1982 when she was just a year old. On Saturday the 20th June she died at the age of 32yrs having spent the rest of her life in a tank. In order to get an idea of what Freya may have endured during her captive life I asked one of her former trainers, John Hargrove, author of Beneath the Surface, how he felt about the news. He told me he sensed a feeling of relief that her suffering was over.
Freya gave birth to her son, Valentin, in 1996 after every one of her newborns had died. She was then locked in a tiny back pool with her son for two years after she allegedly became disruptive during shows. Freya was once badly burnt by a malfunctioning chlorine treatment system which meant all the orca could not even open their eyes and, John says, shed ‘sheets’ of their skin.
John says these are just a couple of the countless experiences endured by Freya which is why I think he summarises the captive life of an orca so well – ‘ Regardless of whether these animals are loved by their trainers, they lead depressing lives of confinement. Freya will no longer have to suffer such exploitation. She is now free from those who took her freedom from her.’”
There are no captive orca or dolphins in the UK and the tide is slowly turning all around the world – the result of long-term campaigning by Born Free and many other dedicated groups and individuals, and, without doubt, the power of the Blackfish effect. Freya is no longer here to bear earthly witness to the end of this form of wild animal exploitation but, without doubt, it is coming.