The dolphin has previously been used for research and is now kept hidden from public view.
A false killer whale is being secretly kept at a Sea Life Park in Hawaii in cramped conditions and a tiny tank that has been described as no bigger than a hotel swimming pool. The false killer whale (actually a member of the oceanic dolphin family) is called Kina, and she has been kept at the marine park for the past 17 months, after previously working for the U.S. Navy. Natalie Parra, the co-founder of Keiko Conservation, has claimed that the tank is far too shallow. She told The Dodo,
“She suffers in that park — none of the guests even know that she’s there. And she’s basically alone, all day, every day. She just logs [a term for when dolphins float motionless at the surface].”
Kina is now 40 years old and is the last survivor in the US from Japan’s infamous drive hunts. She was captured from the wild in 1987 just off the coast of Iki Island in Japan, as fishermen drove various marine life into coves, before selecting the most attractive animals for captivity, and slaughtered the rest. However, in contrast to the similar annual Taiji hunts that are currently occurring, where the remaining dolphins are slaughtered for their meat, the purpose of the Iki Island dolphin drives was predator eradication, according to Hardy Jones, executive director of Blue Voice. He explained that the fishermen prized squid and yellowtail fish, but feared that the dolphins were eating them, so they killed the dolphins.
Kina was one of the dolphins that were selected for captivity at Iki Island in 1987 and was initially transported to a marine park in Hong Kong that has a record of frequent animal deaths, called Ocean Park. But in November of 1987, the US navy bought Kina and moved her to the naval station in Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii where she lived in a sea pen with two bottlenose dolphins. The navy used all three of the animals for echolocation research, although there is no detailed information about this project.
She was then moved again in 1993, to another sea pen on Coconut Island, where the University of Hawaii continued to use the three animals for echolocation research. However, six years later the university decided that the $900,000 a year that it was costing them to keep the three dolphins was too much, and proceeded to get rid of them. The university auctioned Kina to the highest bidder, which turned out to be Sea Life Park. Although according to The Dodo, the university denies that they auctioned Kina off, and claim that she was sold to the establishment that could provide the best care for her.
Although Sea Life Park offers swim with dolphin experiences and sea lion encounters, Kina is kept hidden from public view, in a tank at the back of the park. Parra said to The Dodo,
“We don’t know if they got her as a package deal, and didn’t really want her, and they just wanted the two bottlenose dolphins for shows. It’s a little bit strange.”
According to the president of Animal Rights Hawaii, Cathy Goeggel, Sea Life Park never obtained a permit to transfer Kina from Coconut Island to Sea Life Park, which is usually required in Hawaii. She said, “There were permits to transfer the two dolphins from Coconut Island to Sea Life Park, but there was no permit from Kina. They were ignoring the law.” However, a public information officer for the HDOA, told The Dodo,
“It was … previously explained to Animal Rights Hawaii that the false killer whale was allowed to be moved because of an urgency in the deteriorating condition of the holding pens at Coconut Island. That caused concern for the immediate welfare of the false killer whale.”
Parra’s big concern is that she believes that Kina is miserable at Sea Life Park. She is imprisoned in a very shallow tank with zero coverage from the sun. Recent drone footage of the park also shows that Kina’s tank is filthy and much dirtier than the other marine tanks at the park. As well as keeping Kina separated from other marine animals, and away from public view, the park has made employees of the nearby Oceanic Institute who can see Kina from their property, agree not to release any photos of her, according to The Dodo’s report. Videos footage of Kina in her tank at Sea Life Park in Hawaii can be seen:
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