Animal rights activists and animal-lovers in general are rallying together to free hundreds of captive whales in Russia. As of yesterday, it is reported that there are 11 orcas and 87 belugas that have been found in crammed enclosures in the town of Nakhodka, and many are sick or dying.
Whales and orcas are highly valued, and ocean parks want them because they bring in a lot of revenue. Due to this, there is a high demand for the capture or breeding of these animals. However, both species need a lot of space to thrive. They are highly intelligent and need to swim in oceans to socialize with others and to hunt. Cramming them into small spaces is not only cruel, but could also be deadly.
The whales were discovered in small enclosures where they’re kept until they’re ready to be sold. AFP reports that they’ve been captured for “educational purposes”—a legal loophole these businessmen use to be able to take the whales out of their homes. In reality, there are no facilities that could hold that many whales in Russia, so the purpose of educating the children about them is probably just an excuse. An orca that has gone missing is speculated to have died and was moved discreetly, and three other beluga whales have disappeared in a similar fashion since December.
An orca is valued at $6 million and a beluga whale at $100,000, so the Nakodhka facility holds about $70 million worth of animals. Chinese amusement parks are looking to buy these animals because they will significantly increase their visitors and the total value of their park. As of today, president Vladimir Putin has put an order for his ministers to find a solution for these animals within the week. If they decide to confiscate the animals and release them, it will be quite an ambitious move: never before have so many whales been released at once.
VIDEO: Russia is the only country where orcas, or killer whales, and belugas can be caught for the purpose of "education". The legal loophole has been used to export them, especially to satisfy demand from China growing number of theme parks pic.twitter.com/iTlaDAvykc— AFP news agency (@AFP) February 22, 2019
Thanks to the efforts of conservationists and social media, the story has gone viral. This allowed more people to talk about the story and rally for more support. Many of the animals are sick, depressed, or dying, so it’s important that action is taken quickly. With the help of supporters around the world, conservationists and animal-lovers were able to get Russian authorities to pay attention.