UPDATE: The orcas slated to be an attraction at the Sochi Olympics will not be put on display, reports OneGreenPlanet.org. The killer whales will, however, remain in captivity, most likely to be used for entertainment in marine amusement parks, the site reported yesterday.
The Olympic Games in Sochi, which are starting in a few weeks, will likely feature a bizarre attraction: two killer whales.
The Vancouver Sun reported today that officials at Sochi's aquarium, Aquatoria, have confirmed that one killer whale has been captured and is acclamating at a “specially equipped base.”
Orca monitoring groups have had their eyes on this possibility since 2012, reports the Sun. Now that it has become reality, an online petition has been started, demanding that the whales not be on show during the Games. Almost 35,000 people had signed as of this writing.
This is what the petition says.
Some killer whale experts say that putting an orca in captivity is akin to animal abuse, causing the animal great stress. Indeed, it's thought that the deadly 2010 attack on its trainer by Sea World's orca, Tilikum, was provoked by sensory deprivation, isolation, boredom and too-frequent breeding.
And that attack was not an isolated one. Other orcas have attacked their trainers, too, sparking a public controversy -- including a high-profile documentary called "Blackfish" -- over whether whales and dolphins should be kept in captivity at all.
As for the orca exhibit in Sochi, it's imaginable that the question isn't whether it will go on, but how many whales will be in it: one or two.