A pair of orca whales are reportedly being held in concrete tanks in Moscow, under conditions that some animal rights activists assert could injure the animals, causing them to go deaf and driving them to insanity.
The two orcas were caught off the east coast of Russia in 2012, according to Raw Story. At first, it was believed that the whales would be transported to Sochi for the Winter Olympics, yet accounts at the time suggested that the orcas were taken to Moscow, where a new oceanarium is planned. Police have now confirmed, according to the Moscow Times, that the orcas are indeed being kept in two concrete tanks at the All-Russia Exhibition Center on the north side of the city.
For the last 10 months, the orcas, a 5-meter-long female named Narnia, and a younger unnamed male, have been kept in two small tanks, covered by an inflatable shell. The facility, which is closed to the public, is 65 meters long and contains two separate tanks for the orcas. Irina Novozhilova, head of animal rights group Vita, described the tanks as “solitary confinement cells.” The concrete walls of the tanks could be interfering with the orca’s echolocation, she asserted, potentially deafening the whales.
According to Konstantin Zgurovsky, supervisor of the marine program at WWF Russia, the tanks are nowhere near large enough for the orcas. The whales are known to cover up to 150 kilometers a day in the open ocean, he noted, pointing out that their confinement creates stress, which could make them dangerous.
— Milla (AnimalEco) (@patas_de_gato) November 1, 2014
Sochinsky Delfinary LLC (Sochi Dolphinarium), the company that owns the orcas, dismissed the claims as “laughable,” according to the St.Petersburg Times. They claimed that the tanks, which are 25 meters across and eight meters deep, are the best accommodations for the orcas in Russia.
In a separate statement, the VDNKh exhibition center pointed out that the orcas had to be transported to Moscow ahead of the oceanarium’s 2015 opening before they grew too large to be transported. The orcas were originally housed at a facility near Vladivostok.
Recently, the documentary Blackfish highlighted the plight of captive orcas, as the Inquisitr previously reported. While the film’s popularity financially affected parks housing killer whales in the United States, Moscow City Police have refused to launch an investigation into the orcas’ plight, since housing an animal under poor conditions is not a punishable offense in Russia.