A Russian dolphin trainer, Sergei Kozhemyakin from Moscow, unburdens himself after a lifetime of working with captive dolphins. Not much of what he says is very surprising, but the important thing is that he is adding to a growing wealth of insider testimony regarding the realities for dolphins of life in an entertainment pool.
It is often said that it is hard to hide an orca. But (perhaps not surprisingly) the Russians seem to be doing a pretty good job. There’s lots of circumstantial evidence that that the big new Moscow Dolphinarium and Aquarium at the All-Russian Exhibition Center, currently being built, plans to put two orcas on display. In an interview, God Nisanov
Year Nisanova, a billionaire and one of the financial backers, says that 17 dolphins have been purchased in Japan, that they will be displayed in multiple pools (a number of which will be used in therapy programs), and that the project has also caught beluga and killer whales for display (even if photos of the captured whales made him sad). And this air transport report indicates that two orcas (a 5-meter, 2700 kg female, believed to be the orca dubbed Narnia; and a 1700 kg male) were flown to Moscow in late November or early December (a 10-hour journey in crates).
Yet no one seems to know for sure where the two orcas are right now, creating a minor mystery. The location that appears to be the most likely temporary home for them (and presumably any other whales or dolphins the Moscow Dolphinarium flies in) is the two large tanks pictured above. The tanks have since been covered by an inflatable bubble. And according to this Russian blog, the facility, which measures about 37 x 68 meters, was put together last October, and was said to be a temporary shelter, and acclimatization stop, for animals being brought in for the dolphinarium. Here are some pictures the Russian blogger posted (and there are more here, plus a video):
As far as I can tell, no one has managed to get inside and confirm there are two orcas swimming around in these tanks. But if there are it is a crude and no doubt extremely discombobulating introduction to their life as show animals in captivity. Not that there is any nice way to make that transition.