All orcas & belugas from Russian ‘whale prison’ will return to the wild – governor
“An official decision has been taken to return all the animals into the wild,” Oleg Kozhemyako, the governor of Primorsky Region told media on Monday.
Kozhemyako also promised to set up a special rehabilitation facility where the conditions would be as close as possible to their natural environment. Individual plans for adaptation and release will be finished by the beginning of May, the scientists confirmed.
What began as a global outcry has begun to evolve into a work of international cooperation as people of many nationalities gathered in Moscow to begin a long-term effort to return 97 illegally-captured orcas and beluga whales to the ocean. https://t.co/gXm95BTSHp— Whale_Sanctuary (@Whale_Sanctuary) April 6, 2019
Earlier Jean-Michel Cousteau, who is the son of ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, was invited by the Russian authorities to join the efforts to return captive orcas and belugas to the natural environment.
Last week, Cousteau and his team arrived in the Primorsky Region to start work at the Center for the Adaptation of Marine Mammals, where the creatures are currently held.
I hope that the lessons learned through Keiko’s return to freedom will assist in freeing the 97 cetaceans currently held in the pens off Russia’s coastline. @Whale_Sanctuary#FreeWilly#orcas#belugaspic.twitter.com/OA6rSr8QSg— Jean-Michel Cousteau (@JMCousteau) April 5, 2019
So far, 87 belugas, 11 orcas, and five baby walruses are awaiting rescue from tiny enclosures on Russia’s Pacific coast. 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.
The authorities started an investigation into the conditions of the “whale prison”. But as Russian law allows the capture of whales for cultural and educational purposes, but does not explicitly prohibit them from being sold, the case kept stalling and the animals were left in limbo. Later President Vladimir Putin ordered immediate action to resolve the issue by March 1.
Many environmental organizations and high-profile celebrities, among them Pamela Anderson and Leonardo DiCaprio, have campaigned for the release of the orcas and belugas.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!