Update: 1/17/24: A court decision was handed down on January 17, 2024, after the animal welfare organization One Voice brought the case before the Grasse court. The health of the animals and the tanks will be assessed. The orcas will therefore remain at Marineland for the next four months. We are delighted with this temporary halt. However, requesting an expert assessment of the tanks could be a double-edged sword. If the tanks are found to be in poor condition, Marineland would be more inclined to transfer them (if their current habitat is unsatisfactory). As for C’est Assez! the nonprofit organization referred the matter to the French Council of State on Wednesday January 17, calling for a ban on all transfers of captive cetaceans for commercial purposes. Only transfers to structures such as marine sanctuaries would be authorized. If this procedure is successful, captive orcas and dolphins from France will not be able to be exported to other dolphinariums.
Marineland d’Antibes in France is apparently planning to get rid of its three captive-born orcas Inouk, Wikie, and Keijo. (Inouk and Keijo are males, and Wikie is a female.) Our colleagues at the French animal welfare organization Cést Assez! has received this alarming news from a source inside the park. 24-year-old Inouk, 23-year-old Wikie, and 11-year-old Keijo were all born at Marineland’s orca stadium and are 100 percent Icelandic. Inouk and Wikie are brother and sister.
In November 2021, the French parliament decided that the commercial exploitation of cetaceans will be banned by 2026. Unfortunately, the new law does not include a ban on transfers. Marineland is apparently realizing that there is no financial future in having orcas on public display. Maintaining the stadium, feeding, and medicating the orcas is expensive, and according to an anonymous source, Marineland has decided to eliminate its responsibilities and make the problem go away quickly by sending the orcas to amusement parks in Japan. The aquarium industry in Japan is notorious for exploiting and abusing marine life to the absolute maximum in the name of entertainment. It seems that Marineland has chosen the cruelest and most convenient way out, instead of helping to establish a real ocean sanctuary where Inouk, Wikie, and Keijo, after years of misuse in the entertainment industry, could retire with some much-deserved dignity and quality.
On January 9th, a large crane was positioned by the orca stadium at Marineland. Julie Labille, who is in charge of communications at the French animal welfare organization C’est Assez!, tells us that Marineland staff lowered the water in one of the tanks and started exposing the orcas to various transport equipment. The staff tried to force the orcas into the stretchers but were not successful. Then they lifted an empty stretcher into the air with the crane.
The date of the transfer is currently unknown, but C’est Assez! is following the situation closely and is preparing to deploy every possible measure to prevent the orcas’ departure from France. There is speculation that Marineland is planning on separating the three orcas, who are closely bonded, and selling them to two different locations. The team at the Japanese campaigning organization Life Investigation Agency has found verification that Suma Sea World in Kobe, Japan, is expecting to bring in a new orca in February/March 2024 for an official opening in June.
Inouk, Wikie, and Keijo will have a much harder life in Japan than they do in France, and a transfer to another concrete amphitheater will no doubt be traumatizing for them, especially if Marineland separates them. In Japan, trainers are allowed to ride on the orcas’ backs, and the orcas will be incorporated into highly exploitative and unethical breeding programs, thus creating even more orcas who will spend their entire lives in dreary stadiums where they can’t even swim normally and are controlled with food to make them perform in front of spectators.
If creating a sanctuary for Inouk, Wikie, and Keijo is not possible at this point, Marineland should at the very least acknowledge its responsibilities and take care of the orcas at their facility, rather than forcing them apart and shipping them to an unknown fate thousands of miles away.
How you can help: