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Pod: Southern Residents
Place of Capture: Bainbridge Island, Washington State
Date of Capture: October 15, 1968
Age at Capture: Approx. 2 years
Over 25 orcas were netted in October 1968, including the [now deceased] male, J-1 Ruffles. Only 5 were kept including one young male, later known as Cuddles.
He was soon purchased by a park known as Flamingo Land in Yorkshire, Great Britain, and was to endure a grueling journey across the United States and the Atlantic Ocean. While at the park, he lived in a small pool with some dolphins.
However, Cuddles reportedly became more and more aggressive during his stay, apparently having previously grabbed two trainers. This resulted in keepers having to clean his tank from the safety of a shark cage and later on, his move to the Dudley Zoo.
When he arrived at the zoo, Cuddles dragged keeper Don Robinson into the pool as well as “misgauged his daily kiss with trainer Roy Lock”, sending him to the hospital with a broken nose.
Cuddles was the first orca in the UK, and was used in the primary studies of Artificial Insemination (AI). Unfortunately, his tank at the zoo was barely twice his size and it was difficult for him to turn around, causing his health to decline. Vandals also broke into the zoo one night, throwing rocks and bricks at him, even going so far as to try and harpoon Cuddles with a 12-foot spear.
On February 6, 1974, Cuddles died due to a broken rib and a streptococcal mediastinal abscess. During his time at the zoo, it was known that he suffered from ulcers and internal bleeding.