Russia-China Orca Trade Expands

In 2012, the animal protection community was shocked to learn that an orca (later named Narnia) had been captured in the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia. This was a huge step backward in a world otherwise progressing rapidly toward ending the display of orcas. By 2015, at least 19 orcas from the region had been taken from their families. Three of these are performing in Moscow; four are set to go on display this summer in Shanghai. Nine are in a single facility—Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, China.

Chimelong imported these whales between 2013 and 2015. Yet none were ever displayed, and concern arose that not all survived the transport or the period since. However, in February 2017, all nine were unveiled in what Chimelong called a “breeding program.” The trainers are being supervised by a European who had only two years of experience working with orcas when he was brought to China.

Through its work with the China Cetacean Alliance, AWI will monitor this disturbing situation. CCA has spoken out on social media regarding the risks facing the orcas (who come from a mammal-eating population) and the inexperienced trainers.