Sochi Olympics Set to Feature Killer Whales

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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.

Photos: Mammals of the Sea: Photos

This is what the petition says.

The Olympic Charter states:
“The IOC’s role with respect to the environment
is: to encourage and support a responsible
concern for environmental issues, to promote
sustainable development in sport and to require
that the Olympic Games are held accordingly.”
Chapter 1, Rule 2, Paragraph 13 of the 2011
Olympic Charter.
2 young wild Orcas have recently been stolen from their natural environment and their family pod, and sent to Sochi Dolphinarium purely for the purpose of maximizing profits during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Allowing these 2 Orcas to be captured from the sea as a DIRECT consequence of the 2014 SOCHI WINTER OLYMPICS breaks many rules of the Olympics Environment Mandates.
We call upon Thomas Bach & the IOC to ensure that these 2 Orcas are URGENTLY returned and released back into the Sea of Okhotsk to be reunited with their family.
It is the IOC's DUTY to uphold the Olympic Charter rules & the ensure that Olympic Host cities COMPLY with the United Nation's Agenda 21 document.
THE WORLD IS WATCHING.
Signed,
Global Olympic Dolphins

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.

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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.

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