Russian authorities have dismantled their whale jail that kept almost 100 animals in cramped conditions, causing an international outcry.
In 2018, eleven orcas and 87 beluga whales were kept in small pens at Srednyaya Bay near the town of Nakhodka. The animals were captured for aquarium shows.
Following an intense campaign by animal rights and environmental groups, the whales were released in 2019. The environmental prosecutor’s office of the Amur Basin said Thursday the jail had been completely dismantled.
The floating structures were dismantled to prevent the illegal keeping of sea animals, the office said in a statement. “It should have been done a long time ago,” said Dmitry Lisitsyn, the head of environmental organization Sakhalin Watch.
“We put huge efforts into closing it and freeing the whales,” Lisitsyn said. All whales kept in the jail were released into the wild.
Lisitsyn said that since most captured whales were babies, they did not know how to live in the wild. They had to go through a rehabilitation program before being released into the Sea of Okhotsk.
According to Lisitsyn, the whale jail was the only known facility of its kind in Russia. But he added that the country has other places keeping whales and other sea animals in “terrible” conditions for entertainment.
Many of the whales held at the whale jail were going to be sent to aquariums in China.
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