Heartbreaking story of killer whale named Hugo who ‘killed himself’ by repeatedly ramming head against tank


HUGO the killer whale was acknowledged to have been so sad in his captivity at an aquarium that he slammed his head into the wall of his tank till he died.

The orca suffered a ideas aneurysm after repeatedly ramming against the sting of his enclosure in a case usually cited by animal rights activists as proof whales shouldn’t be saved at sea parks.

Hugo the whale carries a butterfly on his nostrilCredit: Getty
Hugo performed for 12 years with his trainers
Hugo carried out for 12 years alongside alongside together with his trainersCredit: Getty
Hugo after his death - which some animal rights campaigners have called 'suicide'
Hugo after his loss of life – which some animal rights campaigners have usually referred to as ‘suicide’Credit: The Orca Project

The Sun Online appears to be like at Hugo’s story after one completely different killer whale – named Kiska – was filmed smashing her head against the facet of her tank in a chilling echo of the tragic orca.

Hugo was the tank mate of one completely different well-known orca, Lolita, on the Miami Seaquarium in Florida, who 50 years since being captured continues to be topic to extended working licensed battles as activists rally for her launch.

Lolita is the second oldest whale in captivity, and has spent of her years alone since Hugo died on March 4, 1980.

The Dolphin Project – an animal welfare organisation – says Hugo was born all through the wild nonetheless then rounded up by hunters when he was spherical three-years-old whereas swimming in Vaughan Bay off the coast of Washington.

He was moved to the Seaquarium some 3,000 miles away from his dwelling waters and was held in a tiny pool for 2 years till a mannequin new full enclosure was constructed, “The Whale Bowl”.

Lolita was captured two years later in Penn Cove, Washington, and was moved in alongside Hugo.

However, after spending so extended in isolation the marine mammal’s behaviour deteriorated as he would turn out to be aggressive alongside alongside together with his trainers and seem to self harm.

He is claimed to have usually smashed his head against the facet of his tank and allegedly attacked trainers all through the pool with head butts and bites.

Richard O’Barry, founder of the Dolphin Project, a former animal coach, wrote in his e-book ‘Behind the Dolphin Smile’ about assembly Hugo.

“When I fed Hugo, his tail would be lying on the bottom and his head would be completely out of the water,” he acknowledged.

“It was pathetic. They wished me to coach him. I refused and left in disgust.”

Hugo is claimed to have damaged the tip of his nostril and even slashed it open as rapidly as when he slammed and broke a plastic viewing bubble.

The distressed orca reportedly sliced off a about an inch and a half of his nostril and was left with a flap of pores and pores and pores and skin of spherical 3 inches dangling from him – which needed to be handled by the vet and surgically reattached.

After repeated acts of self damaging behaviour, Hugo’s demise purchased proper right here on March, 3, 1980 when he suffered an aneurysm – a buildup of blood all through the ideas.

It is suspected his repeated acts of ramming his head against the wall could have contributed to his loss of life – with many animal activists referring to his unhappy finish as “killing himself“.

Newsreel footage showing Hugo the whale in his small tank
Newsreel footage exhibiting Hugo the whale in his small tank
Hugo used to bash his nose against the edge of his tank
Hugo used to bash his nostril against the sting of his tank
Hugo the whale was a star attraction at the aquarium
Hugo the whale was a star attraction on the aquarium

Pictures present the ten,000lb whale being sadly hoisted from his tank in a harness by a crane as his fins dangle limply by his facet.

It is unconfirmed what occurred to his physique – nonetheless some declare he was disposed of in a landfill.

Killer whales have the second largest ideas all through the animal kingdom at 6kgs – 4 occasions larger than people with 1.5kg – and activists argue the animals bear when held in captivity.

According to a necropsy report filed to the US authorities, which was released by The Orca Project in 2012, he’s believed to have been spherical 15-years-old when he died – spherical half his pure lifespan all through the wild.

The report reads that Hugo started to thrash all through the weeks resulting in his loss of life and his motion turned sluggish.

His ramming of his head against the edges of the tank over time has broadly been attributed to presumably contributing to his loss of life – although the necropsy report appears to advocate bodily he appeared correctly.

Killer whales have beforehand been reported to have bumped their heads against tanks or tried to leap from the water in an obvious act of self harm.

Whales in wild have furthermore exhibited some self damaging behaviours, with experiences of mass whale beachings – nonetheless that is usually attributed to confusion or illness.

Video of a captive killer whale usually referred to as Morgan beaching herself on a concrete slab and mendacity there for 10 minutes went viral in 2016 – with some suggesting the animal was making an attempt to take its personal life.

You put [orcas] in a topic that’s 150 ft extended by 90 ft broad by 30 ft deep and likewise you’re principally turning them correct into a sofa potato

Naomi RoseAnimal Welfare Institute

The orca was furthermore pictured wounded, having bushed her snout against the edges of the tank – similar to Hugo.

Dr. Ingrid Visser, a marine biologist, described the orca’s behaviour as “fundamentally wrong” and disagree with the Spanish zoo’s evaluation that the behaviour was “natural”.

While it’s unclear if these actions might presumably be definitively labeled as “suicide attempts” – the animals seem like in misery.

And self damaging behaviour has been broadly documented in orcas saved captive.

Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist on the Animal Welfare Institute, a nonprofit, steered National Geographic in 2019 that attributable to their measurement and intelligence orcas don’t do correctly when saved in enclosures.

“It’s basic biology,” she acknowledged.

“If you could have developed to maneuver good distances to hunt for meals and mates then you definitely positively’re tailored to that sort of motion, whether or not or not or not you’re a polar bear or an elephant or an orca.

“You put [orcas] in a box that is 150 feet long by 90 feet wide by 30 feet deep and you’re basically turning them into a couch potato.”


She added: “Not one marine mammal is adapted to thrive in the world we’ve made for them in a concrete box.”

But regardless of it being accepted the animals can work collectively in self damaging behaviour – it’s unclear if whales are succesful of “suicide” all through the human understanding of the time interval.

However, a evaluation in 2017 discovered that 25 per cent of all orcas in captivity have extreme tooth damage, and 70 per cent have at the least some enamel factors.

Captive orcas are acknowledged to grind their enamel on tank partitions to the goal that the nerves are uncovered – leaving them with flooring down and open cavities.

Hit documentary movie Blackfish laid naked the psychological toll which is claimed to happen on orcas in captivity – together with testimony from former trainers.

SeaWorld trainers John Hargrove and Jeffrey Ventre claimed all by their time working at aquariums that the whales usually self harmed attributable to psychological trauma when chatting with The Sun Online.

Venture acknowledged the whales would usually damage their jaws and must be given remedy resembling Valium to assist calm them down.

Hargrove added: “I worked with some whales that were on medication every day of their life and have personally watched whales die at very young ages from disease.

“It was possibly most likely essentially the most troublesome choice in my life to ought to walk away from the whales I beloved to have the ability to develop proper right into a whistle-blower and expose the commerce.”

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