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Junior the Orca

JUSTICE FOR JUNIOR: A Memorial Page For Junior the Orca Whale


Biography and Information

Detailed information about Junior is scarce. I tried to put together as much information from various credible websites (such as Orca Network, Zoo Check Canada, and Frontline) in order to prove that Junior existed and was kept in Marineland's warehouse pool. If you have additional information about Junior or know of a creible website that does please contact me and I will add it to this section (with credit to the author given).

Who was Junior?

As Dr. Paul Spong (whale expert) explains: "Junior. A young male orca believed to have been held in virtual isolation in a "warehouse" at Marineland, apparently for sale but without buyers, for several years...until death" (Dr. Paul Spong, Distorted Nature: Exposing the Myth of Marineland Canada, page 31).

Where was Junior captured?

Junior was captured off the coast of Iceland in 1984 when he was (approximately) two years old. Junior was flown to Marineland in Ontario, Niagara Falls, Canada.

Marineland's "Warehouse Pool"

One of Marineland's best-kept secrets is the aquarium's "warehouse pool." Dolphins, such as Junior, were often stored in this pool at various times with little regard for their physical and mental well-being. In general, the warehouse was used for the purposes of:

1. Storing dolphins found unsuitable for display in the show pool (i.e. Duke)
2. Storing dolphins that were for sale (i.e. Junior, Keiko, Kanduke, and others)
3. Separating calves from their mothers

After Junior was sent to Marineland from Iceland, Junior was kept in the Warehouse until a buyer could be found. Other aquariums did not offer to buy Junior and he remained isolated in the warehouse until his death in 1994.

Other Information:

Currently, Zoo Check tentatively lists Junior as "Missing/Presumed dead" since Marineland continues to withold reports detailing Junior's incarceration and death in their storage facility.

Orcas besides Junior have been kept in Marineland's warehouse pool - such as Kanduke and Keiko - who managed to survive their incarceration because they were purchased by other aquariums. This warehouse is notorious for keeping several dolphins as well as orca calves who are separated from their mothers at incredibly early ages. The fact that so many captive cetacea have been kept in this facility emphasizes Marineland's cruel and inhumane practices - which are kept from public knowledge. Keiko also spent time in Marineland's Warehouse. As Howard Garrett of Orca Network explains:

"1980-1982: Marineland in Ontario, Canada, buys Kago, where he is kept for an undetermined time in a warehouse, in a shallow pool without sun, out of public view. There is no documentation of his purchase or transport to Marineland. Another Icelandic orca, named Junior, died in 1994 in this warehouse at the age of nine, after five years of incarceration" (Howard Garret, Orca Network: Keiko's Life Story).

Keiko, star of "Free Willy" was also captured in Iceland. It is possible Keiko and Junior were related but DNA testing has not been done to confirm it.

"two young orcas were apparently being kept in the indoor warehouse pool (according to Zoocheck Canada information) and did not participate in the show, suggesting to me that they were kept only for trade, sale or other purposes" (Hugo Castello, 32).

According to the Animal Liberation Collective: "One of the most disturbing (and least known) aspects of Marineland is the "warehouse". This is a windowless facility next to the main performance pool which houses a shallow pool in which animals that are not involved in shows or are retired, are kept out of sight. Some of its residents over the years include Duke, a retired dolphin considered "too ugly" to perform anymore, and Junior, an orca whose existence Marineland officials have never admitted, yet who was filmed by a Friends of Dolphins volunteer just weeks before he died. Both of these mammals spent their time in the warehouse totally alone, with no stimulation, daylight or companions, and died there. The loud, booming echoes of the nearby performance music forcefully reverberates throughout the warehouse, adding to the stressful conditions for the animals housed there. At present, there are two baby orcas housed in the warehouse, prematurely separated from their mother. In the wild, orca offspring may stay with their mothers for life" (

According to Vanessa Williams: "Orcas which fail to adapt to captive conditions or cannot get along with pool mates are sometimes kept in a 'back pen' until the marine park can find a suitable buyer. Junior, a young male, spent years languishing in a back pen at Marineland, Ontario.

Despite being listed in a 1992 inventory of orcas held (part of a report to the Canadian Committee on Marine Mammals), and being filmed in the indoor warehouse pool on at least two occasions (in January 1990 and again in April 1994), Marineland was incredibly reluctant to admit to his existence. Junior spent the final four years of his life in this indoor pool, deprived of natural light and the company of other orcas, and forced to endure the noise of overhead fans and the barking of sealions. He finally died there, lethargic and reportedly psychotic, in the summer of 1994, aged only around 13 years" (Vanessa Willians, Captive Orcas: Dying to Entertain You, page 37).

In June 1995, a Zoocheck Canada official visited Marineland and noted that two male calves, Neocia (also known as Baby October, born October 92) and Kanuck (born August 94) were not housed in the King Waldorf tank with their mothers. Marineland staff stated that the two calves were then being kept in the indoor warehouse pool. If correct, this means that Marineland had removed a calf (Kanuck) from his mother when only ten months old.

A July 1997 email from Brian McHattie of Zoocheck, Canada, stated that Marineland then kept four orcas under 5 years of age in this indoor pool, namely:

Neocia/Baby October (m) at the time (i.e. July 1997) aged 4 years, 9 months

Kanuck (m) then aged 2 years, 11 months. Separated from his mother at 10 months.

Malik (f) then aged 1 year, 4 months. Estimated separation from Nootka V at 13 months.

Nova (m) then aged ten months. Estimated first separation from his mother, Kiska, at 7 months.

How You Can Help:

- Do not visit Marineland or aquariums that keep captive dolphins/ Aquariums are still operating because people pay to keep them open through ticket sales. By not going, you are not endorsing Marineland's exploitive actions.

- Spread awareness about captivity. Junior's confinement for over four years in the warehouse was unjust and inhumane. People visit Marineland because they are unaware about the aquarium's cruelty toward cetecea. The more people are educated about the cruelty that orcas like Junior (and many others) endured, the less likely people will go or revist Marineland in the future.

Ask yourself: What kind of people would keep an orca in a warehouse for nearly five years? Is this a facility I should visit? Why would Marineland confine Junior for years instead of returning him to the wild?

- Write a letter to the Canadian government asking for legislation to be made concerning the care and treatment of captive ceteceans. Currently, there is no legislation in Canada that addresses the standards in which captive ceteceans must be kept. Without any demand for legislation concerning aquariums, Marineland's "Warehouse pool" and sub-standard tank sizes for their captive orcas and dolphins will continue to exist.