Inouk, a 25-year-old orca, met a tragic end in the very place he was born – a concrete tank at Marineland, Antibes, near Calais. His demise marks the second loss of an orca in less than six months, casting a sombre shadow over Europe’s biggest marine park.

The once-majestic creature, recognizable by his collapsed dorsal fin and toothless mouth, succumbed to unknown causes. However, troubling revelations have emerged about Inouk’s health in the lead-up to his untimely death.

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According to a report by esteemed scientists, including New Zealand orca specialist Ingrid Visser, commissioned by the One Voice organization, Inouk suffered from severe dental issues.

Over the years, he gnawed on his tank, wearing down his teeth to the pulp, resulting in ulcers on his gums and abscesses in his jaw.

In November 2023, veterinarian Estelle Rousselet confirmed the poor state of Inouk’s teeth during an on-site visit at the behest of the French government.

Marineland had resorted to medication to stimulate his appetite, and the orca exhibited aggressive behaviour towards trainers, particularly when they attempted to examine his deteriorating teeth.

Marineland, in response to the tragic news, issued a press release expressing sorrow and emphasizing the quality of care provided to their marine mammals.

They cited regular monitoring by state authorities and highlighted their membership in the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums, along with the prestigious ‘Humane Certified’ certification.

An autopsy is set to be conducted in the coming days to ascertain the precise cause of Inouk’s demise. This heartbreaking incident comes on the heels of another orca tragedy at Marineland.

Just five months prior, Moana, a 12-year-old orca, was found lifeless at the bottom of a pool. The autopsy report revealed concerning findings, including positive PCR tests for various infections, including avian flu and COVID-19, although the latter is rarely observed in orcas.

Fungal pneumonia, ulcers, and foreign bodies in Moana’s stomach further underscored the challenges faced by captive marine mammals.

The park’s veterinarian attributed Moana’s death to acute bacterial septicemia caused by a bacterium. Despite the alarming findings, the vet downplayed the significance of the ulcers and foreign bodies, suggesting they had little clinical impact on the animal.

These tragic incidents have reignited the debate surrounding the ethics of keeping marine mammals in captivity. Critics argue that such environments cannot meet the complex physical and psychological needs of these intelligent creatures.

Calls for greater scrutiny and regulation of marine parks like Marineland are growing louder, with advocates pushing for stricter welfare standards and, in some cases, outright bans on keeping orcas and other cetaceans in captivity.

As Marineland grapples with the loss of yet another cherished resident, questions linger about the true cost of captivity for these magnificent creatures.

In the wake of Inouk and Moana’s deaths, the world is reminded of the urgent need to prioritize the welfare and conservation of marine life, both in the wild and in captivity.

While Marineland mourns the loss of Inouk, the broader conversation about animal welfare and the ethics of captivity continues to evolve, fueled by these heartbreaking tragedies.

 

This article was created using automation and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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