orca valentine

Freya with baby Valentin

Very sad to read of Freya’s unexpected death this morning, and as I normally do I decided to paint something. Freya was about 34 and her cause of death is not yet released, Valentin was her only live calf (Freya had 5 calves, but 4 were stillborn) and my thoughts are with him right now as males tend to do poorly when their mothers die. 

Swim in peace Freya

Beyond sad - I’m angry

It’s never the parks fault, it’s always the poor trainers, the poor people that work at the park, the poor people who won’t get to visit the park. 

The focus should be on Valentin. The 19 year old whale in the prime of his life who has died as a result of human incompetence.  

There was no back up plan, no emergency rescue procedure to keep those animals safe. They let those whales swim in sewage water, they are still letting them swim in, toxic, pollutant ridden filth. 

If you maintain animals in captivity it is your responsibility to ensure their safety and wellbeing no matter the circumstances. Marineland failed completely, there has to be a disaster plan. Europe is second in the world for natural disasters because of flooding alone - you cannot tell me there was no way to plan for this. You get the animals out  - and if you can’t, if you cannot keep them safe even when the worst should happen - you do not keep them captive. 

I am beyond disgusted with the pro-cap comments I have just read. One of the animals you claim to care about has just died and all you brush off their deaths and reply with - think about the poor trainers???!!!???

What about Valentin? What about Wikie, Moana, Keijo and Inouk whose lives are now in real peril. The truth is you really don’t give a fuck about those animals, they are just as replaceable to you as the industry that confines them. 

I’m so sorry Valentin. I’m sorry you had to spent your life in a box, I’m sorry you were used as a money maker for your entire life. I’m sorry you were deprived of everything that is Orca and I’m sorry you never experience life as it should be. 

Rest in peace, magnificent soul. You will be remembered. 

07. Valentin

Much like orcas in the wild, Valentin has a strong bond with his mother Freya. Since his birth on the eve of Valentine’s Day in 1996, the pair is often seen interacting and performing together. Valentin stands out for being a gentle whale and for having a dorsal fin that is not fully collapsed, a rare quality in captive male orcas. Unfortunately, he is also known for having a pronounced skin condition located beneath his chin. 

French water park Marineland criticised after killer whale dies
A water park in France is being criticised after one of its killer whales died after recent flooding.

BBC News covered Valentin’s death. There is an error in the article (Saying all 4 whales that remain are wild caught icelandics) 

The article also covers the recent CCC ruling and other recent developments in the captive industry.

Valentin, an orca at Marineland Antibes, has passed away. After raging floods pushed different debris and contaminants into his tank, Valentin spent days swimming in polluted water along with the other orcas who lived at the facility. While the cause of death has not yet been released by the park, it is not hard to imagine that he passed from being in such poor conditions. In addition, according to a recent article by dauphinlibre.be, the Marineland Orcas are not doing well. It is apparently difficult for them to eat in their mud filled tanks, and trainers have been unable to preform basic husbandry behaviors on the whales due to their refusal to cooperate. The water level in the tanks has also been greatly lowered, causing stress on the animals. The temperature in their environment is also very hot, as it was at 28°C (84.2°F) just a little while ago. There are also reports going around that Wikie, one of the four remaining orcas at the park, is refusing to eat.

Valentin was only 19 years old when he passed away. Not only is that extremely unnatural age of death for male orcas (male killer whales have an average lifespan of 30, though they can live to be 50-60 years old), his death also shows us how contingency plans are desperately needed at Marine Parks. What if an earthquake were to occur at SeaWorld San Diego, or a hurricane were to hit SeaWorld Orlando/the many other marine parks that are in Florida? These places absolutely need these procedures for the safety and wellbeing of the animals. And while there is no doubt in my mind that the workers are trying to clean up the facilities as fast as possible, it is still imperative that the orcas and other animals at the park have something done to their environment before it is too late.

A little information about Valentin:

Valentin was born on February 19th, 1996, in the same month of the holiday Valentine’s Day, hence his name. His mother was Freya and his father was Kim 2. Out of five calves, Valentin was Freya’s only baby to survive. As such, the two were very close. Unfortunately, both Freya and Kim 2 have since passed away, with Freya dying just earlier this year. He was known for being a gentle whale, and trainers often stated that they loved to work with him because of this.

Photo by Jolanda Vogelaar

For those who don’t know, a female orca at Marineland Antibes, has died. Her name was Freya, and she was only 33 when she passed away. Originally she had been captured and separated from her mother in Iceland at the age of one, a time when calves are still heavily dependent on their mothers. After she had been captured she was moved to the Harfnarfjordur Aquarium along with Kim 2, another orca whom she had been taken with. Both whales were then bought and sent to Marineland Antibes, where their captive orca life would soon begin.

In the hierarchy of Marineland, Betty was the dominant female of the pod. But after her passing in 1987, Freya assumed the role as Matriarch. Over the next few years Freya grew sexually mature and was ready to have children. She proceeded to have many pregnancies, but all resulted in stillborns. It was then discovered that she had a tumor on her body. It was quickly removed, and after which she had her first living calf, a male orca named Valentin who was born on Valentine’s Day. In the end she had five pregnancies, but only one survived. It has been said that she had been given anti-depressants up until she died, and she had been on birth control for awhile before being taken off of it so she could be AI (Artificially Inseminated). When she died she was a grandmother, a mother, and a companion to all the whales at Marineland.

R.I.P Freya… I will always remember you. You were such a beautiful, smart, sweet whale, and one of my favorite whales at Marineland Antibes. May you Rest In Peace, and swim among the stars.

Photo Credit: Marineland Antibes