South America’s only captive orca deserves his freedom

Kshamenk in his tiny, dirty pool at Mundo MarinoKshamenk in his tiny, dirty pool at Mundo Marino
Photo: Sea Shepherd
At Mundo Marino Aquarium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, lives a captive orca named Kshamenk. He is believed to be about 26 years old and has been in captivity since he was five. Kshamenk will swim more than 500 turns per hour in his tiny pool that is dirty and horrifyingly small. He is the only captive orca in South America. Kshamenk needs our help in order to convince the aquarium that the only decision they can take is to return Kshamenk to the wild.

Kshamenk’s capture story is different according to who tells it.

He was captured in 1992, and was approximately five years old. He was hunting with other members of his pod along the coast of Buenos Aires province.

Here is where the story changes according to who is telling it:

According to the captors at Mundo Marino, Kshamenk and the other orcas were stranded in a muddy inlet in the Samborombon Bay.  As the tide went down, the animals couldn’t return to deeper waters. A mission to “help” the orcas was organized. Of the whole group only Kshamenk survived the horrendous capture and has remained in captivity ever since.

The other side of this story goes like this — the orcas were hunting off the coast of Buenos Aires province but were intentionally stranded by being driven near the shore with huge nets and were drawn by the tide into muddy shallow waters where they were trapped. This wasn’t the first time Mundo Marino had used this tactic to obtain orcas for their marine park, they had already captured a female orca called Belen and also a larger orca called Milagro, who was the first specimen of orca in the aquarium.

Recently, Kshamenk and Belen were the only two remaining orcas in the aquarium. But when Belen died, after giving birth to a stillborn baby fathered by Kshamenk and apparently being pregnant again at the time of her death, Kshamenk started behaving more and more aggressively, and currently suffers incredibly high levels of stress and frustration due to his isolation and confinement. Experts suspect that his health is decaying.

Kshamenk, South America's only captive OrcaKshamenk, South America's only captive orca
Photo: Sea Shepherd

There is a growing movement to see Kshamenk released back into the wild. The aquarium insists that there is proven evidence that orcas that have lived many years in captivity don’t survive if they are released back into the wild. On the other hand animal rights activists don’t agree and are fighting for his return to Patagonian waters where he belongs. There are factors in his favor for his return to the ocean including:

  • Kshamenk was five years old when he was captured therefore he had plenty of time to gain experience in natural survival skills such as foraging, navigating, communicating and the use of sonar.
  • Kshamenk is hostile to trainers and handlers. In fact, he wants nothing to do with people. The fact that Kshamenk has not bonded with people during the time he has spent in captivity makes is much easier to help him once again become a wild animal.
  • It is believed Kshamenk is a transient orca and one of the few transients in captivity. Transients have slightly more flexible social patterns than residents. This means that Kshamenk could adapt well to pods other than his original family unit, and there is a very good chance that he would connect with some of the many transient orcas that regularly pass through the area.
  • Kshamenk at least deserves a chance to be free a free orca once again, if he remains in captivity he will die in the not-so-distant future.
  • A plan for his successful release has already been outlined and will be presented in August.

Mundo Marino aquarium tried a few years ago to sell Kshamenk to Sea World USA. Currently this transaction is on hold, however it has not been cancelled. Currently Sea World is using Kshamenk to artificially inseminate its female captive orcas. Kshamenk’s first child was born this year destined for a life of performing in captivity, while Kshamenk suffers in isolation in Argentina. Shame on Sea World. Do not support captive programs.

Take direct action and demand that Mundo Marino release Kshamenk back to the wild where he belongs:

Mundo Marino on Trip Advisor

Mundo Marino
Office Administration/Information:
Av Cordoba 937 - 3rd piso - office 1
Capital Federal - Buenos Aires
Tel / Fax (54-011) 4325-2900

Aquarium Address:
Av. Decima n°157 - San Clemente del Tuyu
Buenos Aires - ARGENTINA
Phone (54-02252) 43-0300 and 43-0304
Fax: (54-02252) 42-1501

Kshamenk being forced to perform for foodKshamenk being forced to perform for food
Photo: Sea Shepherd

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