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Captive orcas year by year – 1964 – In 1964, the Vancouver Aquarium asked sculptor Samuel Burich to make them a life sized model of a killer whale for their British Columbia Hall. He set out to Saturna Island with the intention of shooting and killing a killer whale in order to make the replica. After about two months of waiting, a group of orcas, believed to be J Pod, came by the island. Burich took his shot and hit a young orca in the back. Immediately the other pod members came over, trying to hold the orca above water. Several shots were fired at the orca but the animal did not die and continued to let out its screeching distress calls. Murray A. Newman, the director of the aquarium, decided to keep the killer whale alive and put it on display. It took sixteen hours in bad weather to tow the orca to Vancouver. The whale, which was estimated to be about 5-7 years old, became an instant hit. A radio contest was held to name the orca who, at the time, was thought to be a female. Moby Doll was the winning entry and people came from all over to see this live killer whale. Because so little was known about these animals, Newman was unsure of what to feed her. They tried seal, poultry, whale blubber and whale tongues and octopus. However, Moby Doll refused them all and did not eat for 55 days. It was only by chance that a visitor came and offered the whale a lingcod did the keepers realize what this animal ate. After developing a rash due to the low salinity of the water and only a mere 87 days in captivity, Moby Doll died. During the necropsy the aquarium employees were embarrassed to discover that Moby Doll was actually Moby Dick. The cause of death is officially listed as a fungal disease that got into his lungs, possibly because he was unable to get to clean and salty water. Moby Doll’s capture generated some of the first positive press for killer whales and whetted the appetite of people like Ted Griffin who wanted an orca of their own.

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