About Corky

Corky is a female orca who was captured in 1969 at 4 years of age. She has now spent more than 42 years in captivity, longer than any other orca. When Corky was captured, very little was known about orcas, not even the fact that they from closely bonded family groups within which members remain all their lives. Corky’s family in the wild is known as the “A5 pod” of British Columbia, Canada. Corky has close and distant relatives living free who she knew as a youngster, as well as siblings she has never known. She is the sole survivor of all the orcas captured from the “northern resident community” of British Columbia orcas. The campaign to free Corky originally aimed at returning her to a full life with her family in the wild. In recent years, acknowledging the difficulties involved in accomplishing this (“owner” intransigence, Corky’s age and condition) we have modified our goal by proposing that Corky be “retired” to a facility in the ocean, where she would feel the ocean around her, and be able to reconnect with her family and community. Corky would hear familiar voices from long ago, and have opportunities to interact with her kin. We can’t know precisely what would happen following her return, as this would be determined by Corky and the other orcas. She would continue to receive human care, including from Sea World staff who know her well. There are many compelling reasons for doing this. In fairness, we owe it to Corky, and to her family to make the attempt to reunite them. Corky’s return to the ocean will also give us an opportunity to learn details about orca society that we will never know otherwise. But beyond these humanitarian and scientific reasons, Corky’s story and the complex project needed to bring it to a successful conclusion has the potential for focusing public attention on a wide range of critical ocean issues besides captivity… the health of vital habitats, fisheries and food supply, impacts of human activity and industry, even global warming.

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