Liberation Awaits Nearly 100 Cetaceans from “Whale Jail”
In November 2018, aerial footage of a Russian captive cetacean facility dubbed a “whale jail” quickly went viral. The video, which documented nearly one hundred orca and beluga whales crammed into ten crammed pens, prompted public outrage the world over. Now, after months of pressure, the animals who have suffered in confinement for far too long are due to be released.
At least eleven orcas and 87 belugas were captured in the summer of 2018 by multiple Russian firms. Their fate was dismal, as they were going to be sent to marine parks. However, before the sales could be made, the Russian Prosecutor General affirmed that selling them to marine parks in other countries, including China, would be illegal. Russia had been feeding China's growing marine park industry through the capture and sale of wild animals. The belugas and orcas, many of whom are very young, were held in limbo this past winter and forced to endure freezing Russian waters at this cruel facility.
Fortunately, the Russian Government officially charged the companies with the illegal captures and are requiring the release of the animals involved. The announcement comes after months of public pressure and detailed discussions with Jean-Michel Cousteau from Ocean Futures Society, and Charles Vinick of the Whale Sanctuary Project.
The orcas and belugas continue to be held in the “whale jail”, but hopefully not for long, as plans are being made for their release. Although these animals seem to have been spared a lifetime in captivity, being held in confinement in Russia likely resulted in numerous health issues. Tragically, at least one orca is missing and is suspected to have died.
We applaud the Russian Government for not only condemning the live captures but for also requiring their release. This firm stance against animal cruelty sends a powerful message to the world: ripping cetaceans from their native waters is wrong, has grave repercussions, and will not be tolerated.
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