Sad news has been released today from Marineland Antibes in France: Captive orca Freya has died following "a long illness". The post announced (translated using Google Translate) that "After more than 32 years with [her] trainers and [her] group of orcas, the matriarch leaves today Wikie, Inouk, Valentin, Moana and Keijo all born the Park. The team [of] trainers, veterinarians and experts have devoted their efforts for several months to [help her] heal. They made sure she had no pain and in that time, Freya stayed with [her] social group. Analyses will be performed by a veterinary expert team, to know the cause of death. The findings will be published."
Freya was captured from Icelandic waters in 1982 at around 1 year of age and has been held in captivity ever since. Scientific research has estimated that, in the wild, female orca have an average lifespan of 50.2 years and can live as long as 80-90 years, possibly even longer. In captivity, orca life-expectancy is greatly reduced, with an overall median survival estimate of just 6.1 years. Freya died at around 32-33 years of age.
Freya's dorsal fin was partially collapsed and she had a white, round scar on her left-hand side that was a result of human action. During her time in captivity, Freya had four stillbirths. Her only surviving calf is a male named Valentin, born 1996, who still resides at Marineland Antibes. In the wild, male orca survival has been linked with the survival of their mothers.
Freya was the oldest member and matriarch of the Marineland Antibes orca. Freya was one of seven wild-caught Icelandic orca still alive in captivity, leaving only six remaining. She is now one of 48 wild-caught Icelandic individuals who have died in captivity.
Click on the image to enlarge - all photos © Orca Aware
Former SeaWorld & Marineland Antibes trainer John Hargrove talks about his time working with Freya in France