Russian kindergarteners are being given tours of the controversial pens that hold 10 killer whales and 87 beluga whales in the country's Far East, an animal rights activist said Monday.
Images of the mammals kept in enclosures in a bay near the Sea of Japan port of Nakhodka first appeared after they were caught for export to China last summer. Under international pressure, Russia in April signed an agreement with a group of international scientists to release the orcas and the belugas.
Videos shared by activist Nina Zyryanova on Sunday showed a group of children accompanied by adults stepping out of a bus and being led into an enclosed area at Srednyaya Bay. A photograph of a poster advertises excursions and lectures “on the life of marine mammals in captivity.”
“This proves that the ‘whale prison’ isn’t rehabilitating the killer whales and belugas as promised, meaning it’s not preparing them for release,” Interfax quoted Zyryanova as saying.
She estimated the number of children from a Nakhodka kindergarten during Sunday’s excursion at between 40 and 100.
Russian scientists announced that the orcas would be freed by June 10 directly from their holding pens into the Sea of Japan, some 1,290 kilometers south of their original habitat in the Sea of Okhotsk. International scientists said the plan could harm the orcas.