UPDATE: Orcas No Longer to Be Displayed at Sochi Olympics but Still Languishing in Captivity
Almost 10,000 people sent messages to Russian authorities asking that two wild orcas who were captured last year be released back into the ocean, rather than be imprisoned and forced to perform at the Sochi Dolphinarium during the Winter Olympics in Russia.
We’ve now learned that the two orcas – a female named Narnia and a young male – have not been brought to Sochi and will not be on display during the Olympics. Additionally, no dolphin will carry an Olympic torch, as had originally been planned.
Although it’s good news that the international platform of the Olympics will not be used to promote the exploitation of marine mammals for entertainment, for these two orcas – and six others who were captured in the Okhotsk Sea at the same time – the nightmare continues. Some of them are being kept in small tanks in Moscow, while others are thought to have been shipped to China. All of them are facing the prospect of a lifetime in captivity, separated from their families, denied their freedom and forced to perform absurd tricks.
In the wild, orcas swim up to 100 miles a day and can live for 60 to 100 years. In captivity, they are often kept in small tanks with barely enough space to turn around, and their median life expectancy is just 9 years. Numerous health problems are common in captive orcas, such as collapsed dorsal fins, as well as severe psychological damage.
Moscow’s planned aquarium will be one of the few places in the world, along with the United States’ three SeaWorld parks, where orcas are kept in captivity. We need to keep up the pressure in order to make sure that, long after the 2014 Olympics are over, the plight of these magnificent wild animals is not forgotten. Please take action, calling for the release of these orcas:
Captured orca image: © Terrell C. Newby, Ph.D