Whale Custody Battle

Romeo and Juliet, Eloisa and Abelard, Tristan and Iseult, and now Ike and Kiska. The tradition of star-crossed lovers has found its way into the animal kingdom, as a whale custody battle is being waged between Marineland, of Canada and SeaWorld in San Diego. In 2006, SeaWorld traded Ike, an orca, for four beluga whales from Marineland. Now the San Diego theme park, under a new administration, wants its killer whale back. Problem is, Ike has become quite fond of Kiska, a female orca, and they may very well be on the verge of mating. Moreover, the separation could take a toll on both animals’ health.

When the exchange originally took place, Ike was at the tender age of four years and thus too young to mate. The agreement stated that Ike would remain at his new home for the remainder of his natural life, unless Marineland were unable of care for him. It was also understood that one of the main goals was to get Ike to breed. However, Ike only became capable of mating until 2010, and he only showed interest in Kiska until early 2011.

But in all seriousness, the handlers at Marineland were dealing with animals that follow their own instincts, . To make matters worse, if it succeeds, SeaWorld’s request would not only hamper Ike’s current living conditions, but it would also affect Kiska in particular, and the park in general, by depriving it of one of its major attractions. On the other hand, the trade has greatly benefited the beluga program at SeaWorld, which by the way has more than half the population of captive orcas in the world, while Marineland only has the aforementioned two, which it is still able to care for.