‘Whale jail’ orcas & belugas to be moved to sea mammal center – Kremlin

‘Whale jail’ orcas & belugas to be moved to sea mammal center – Kremlin
The sea mammal center in Russia’s Far East will accommodate captive orcas and belugas, which are currently held in a so-called “whale prison,” until scientists and veterinarians decide if they can be returned to the wild.

The Russian authorities plan to develop a road map of rehabilitation and re-adaptation to their natural environment for the orcas and belugas. However, the animals will only be set free if the decision poses “no risk to their lives,” a statement said.

The scientists and authorities involved in resolving the situation concerning the “whale jail” have opposing views as to whether the animals would survive in the wild. While some believe they can survive and should be released before it gets warmer, others say that if released, the animals will be doomed to die. Ecologists claim that at least 15 of the belugas are too young to survive by themselves.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will take the situation with the aquatic animals under special control, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “The issue cannot be considered as settled, and we do not consider it as such,” he said. President Putin ordered that action be taken to help the 100 orcas and belugas by March 1.

As of today, 87 belugas, 11 orcas and five baby walruses are being kept in tiny enclosures on Russia’s Pacific coast. Images of the trapped animals went viral in November after local authorities discovered the “whale jail,” and launched an investigation into the operators of the “prison,” the Center for the Adaptation of Marine Mammals.

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The whales were supposedly captured for educational purposes, but animal rights activists suspect they were intended for sale to aquariums and amusement parks in China. Since discovery, three young belugas and one orca have disappeared from the enclosures. While the operators claim that they escaped, ecologists suspect that the animals actually died.

Many high-profile celebrities, among them Pamela Anderson and Leonardo DiCaprio, have campaigned for the release of the orcas and belugas.

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