Russian Traveling Dolphin shows




Over  the past two years, there has been a growing wave of concern globally  regarding cruelty shown to marine mammals in captivity.

Whilst worldwide, growing opposition to marine mammals in captivity increasingly threatens this unacceptable  commercial practice (and thankfully so!), in Russia it is just the opposite: this tragic “entertainment industry” is growing rapidly.

What Is Happening To Dolphins and Orcas Right Now in Russia

There  are now 43 stationary dolphinariums in Russia, holding approximately 160 bottlenose dolphins and 60 beluga whales. In the near future, three more new facilities are scheduled to open: two dolphinariums in Novosibirsk and Nizhny Novgorod, and the new Moscow Oceanarium at VDNKh.

Three orcas – Narnia, Nord and Juliet — were actually captured just for this new Moscow Oceanarium, which also announced that it had ordered dolphins from Japan. Even more oceanariums like the one in Moscow are being planned for Saint-Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, along with 3 more dolphinariums in Rostov, Grozny and Ulyanovsk.

Worse still, the number of traveling dolphinariums are growing along with stationary ones. There are already twelve traveling dolphinariums in Russia. One of them is currently in Kazakhstan and another one in Belarus, with the consequence that 23 bottlenose dolphins and 12 beluga whales are living in the eternal never-ending stress of always being moved around the country in these traveling, tiny enclosures.

 What These Commercial Enterprises Are Doing is Horrific

For example, a Ukrainian company, “Nemo”, just recently opened a traveling dolphinarium in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Ukraine law strictly forbids such practices, but there are no laws regarding marine mammal welfare in captivity either in Kazakhstan or Russia.  In fact, traveling dolphinariums are banned in most countries, the exceptions being Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Indonesia.

Criticism abounds throughout the civilized world that the conditions are detestable in these marine mammals struggle day-in and day-out to endure in stationary dolphinariums: the lack of sufficient space for the dolphins to swim, hopelessly low water quality, and the stress created by these circumstances lead over and over again to the premature death of these beautiful, intelligent marine mammals.

The Special Tragedy of “Traveling Dolphinariums”

And that’s just in stationary dolphinariums; without question the conditions are much worse in traveling dolphinariums. In these transportable “shows”, marine mammals moved from city to city by trailer truck, spending long days in tiny tanks without any ability to move around.  The animals do not receive proper care during transportation, suffering even more extreme stress during the time it takes to set up and dismantle the mobile pools and inflatable arenas.

On average, these mammals spend a week in these “traveling” tanks (set – 3 days, dismantling – 3 days, transportation – 1-2 days). And how long do these cycles repeat themselves? Well, a traveling dolphinarium tour usually lasts approx. six weeks , sheer torture for these animals in their tiny tanks, during their days of transportation and their 24/7 never-ending stress.

How bad can it get? One beluga whale named Dale died whilst touring, which occurred on September 4th, 2010, when the Moscow traveling dolphinarium performed in Kokshetau, Kazakhstan. The cause of death was heart problems, no doubt aggravated by the constant transportation. Afterwards, Dale’s partner, a beluga named Lentochka, literally refused to perform after his death. Her fate? She disappeared later in 2010, and nobody knows whether she simply died or was moved elsewhere.

A big marine mammal just disappearing? In Russia dolphins can and do “disappear” as dolphinarium owners simply replace the dead dolphins with illegally purchased dolphins and the replacement mammals are just given the same name as the previous dead animal.  So, no one knows because the replacements are kept secret. Who wins? Well there are always those who are willing to profit and deliver dolphins and beluga whales as replacements. Very much like the owners of these dolphinariums, they know full well that the authorities turn a blind eye and don’t make any effort at all to keep track or monitor these activities. That’s how things work in Russia. How many dolphins have died is simply not known.

How Bad Can It Get?

For that matter, no one truly knows the extent of the awful things occurring in Russian dolphinariums. But some terrible incidents have indeed come to light.

December 25, 2004,


Truck transporting a traveling dolphinarium was involved in a major traffic accident.

“The accident happened on Saturday afternoon on the Moscow-Petersburg highway. Fifty kilometers from Novgorod, one tractor trailer got into an accident with a heavy dump truck. Two people died. Animals injured. One of the dolphins washed up on the roadway from the hit. Rescuers have been waiting for almost 3 hours in the cold for the new tank. All this time the animals were watered from fire hydrants. Belugas were loaded onto a passing truck with a crane and sent home. Veterinarians and management staff of dolphinarium refused to comment on this incident. They reassured everyone that dolphins are alive and well, and immediately swimming as soon as they are unloaded. However, witnesses say that belugas were covered in blood when they got out of the tank».



February 2, 2007,


Inflatable pool with dolphins burst during a performance in front of visitors. Gushing water carried and threw animals into hallways and foyers.  Dolphins were dragged away behind the arena. Later dolphinarium staff announced that animals are alive.

Video footage with the accident (accident happened at 1:25):


March 23, 2013,


A strong gust of wind swept away the inflatable roof of the Moscow Traveling dolphinarium during the show. People were evacuated immediately. No one was hurt.



Night of August 12,2014, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

A huricane damaged the top of inflatable arena of the Moscow traveling dolphinarium. The wind swept away one of the walls. The whole rena lost electricity. The Marine Mammals were stressed yet the dolphinarium resumed the show on  the same day, without waiting to repair the wall.

Source: http://www.


August 13, 2014,

Tula Oblast.

The water in the tank began to evoporate and deteriorate during the transportation of two beluga whales from Arkhangelsk to Novorossiysk. Firemen traveled  to the scene and changed the water, but one of the beluga whales developed burns on its skin. The transportation was resumed after the water was changed.






December 1, 2014,


The stairs at the Arena of the Moscow Traveling Dolphinarium collapsed. Two people were injured.



How One Person Made a Difference

These are only a few examples of the types of major accidents that can occur, and they represent the few incidents that have become publicly known. In contrast, very little is known about what happens daily to the animals in these mobile shows.

Yet, sometimes, people witness terrible things.

Just recently, at the end of April 2015, the Russian traveling dolphinarium came to Perm. The installation of the arena starts. From the Ferris wheel, Elena Borovskaya by chance sees beluga whales in the tiny tank. The next day, the belugas still were in the same tank. Whales in tiny tanks! These poor whales spent three whole days in those tanks. On the third day, when Elena went closer to the tank with the whales, she witnessed a terrible odour. In the pictures below that were taken over the three day interval, one can clearly see the difference of the water color where the belugas had been kept.



This dolphinarium came to Perm after the tour in Veliky Novgorod. Transportation from Veliky Novgorod to Perm takes more than a day. When one takes into account the 3 days for dismantling the inflatable arena in Veliky Novgorod, it turns out that these TWO POOR BELUGA WHALES SPENT AT LEAST EIGHT LONG DAYS IN THAT TINY TANK FILLED WITH FETID WATER. Only then they were moved to the so-called main pool.




Photo: courtesy of



This seal had been kept in this tiny cage for at least 8 days!!!



Photo: courtesy of

The dolphinarium was closed for inspection for on April 30th because of increased public attention. Yet, despite all the criticism, the dolphinarium commenced on May 1st. When they did their inspection, local authorities concluded that no mistreatment of animals had been identified. Isn’t it amazing what kinds of terrible animal treatment is considered “acceptable” in Russia??!!

And normal! «Everything is normal,» according to the director of the Russian traveling dolphinarium. Even worse, people are willing to pay money to watch these woefully exhausted and mistreated marine animals. Tickets sold out for several days ahead and the sufferings of these poor belugas went unnoticed by Perm residents.


How These Tragedies Become Never-Ending

Last year, a similar situation arose with these same belugas.The Russian traveling dolphinarium came from Tambov to Belgorod on the morning of February 28, 2014. The inflatable arena installation began only in the evening and was completed on March 2nd. The pool was installed on March 3rd. The result? The belugas spent at least 6 and a half days in those same tiny tanks, taking into account the time for arena dismantling  3 days, plus around 6-7 hours of traveling time from Tambov to Belgorod and 3 days for installing Arena in Belgorod.



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Such is the fate in Russia for these beautiful, intelligent marine mammals. The fact is that in Russia, anyone can buy a dolphin or even rent a dolphin and put it anywhere they want. EVEN IN THEIR BATHTUB! Such is considered normal and perfectly acceptable in Russia, while most countries in the world consider this kind of display or use of dolphins for entertainment as cruel.

What Other Countries Do

Here is just a partial list of countries where the display of dolphins and other cetaceans in captivity is either banned outright or has strict legislation in place:

Costa Rica (since 2005)

Great Britain,




Greece (Athens, 2011)

Israel (display or use of dolphins for entertainment is prohibited)

South Carolina, USA


Brazil (display or use of dolphins for entertainment is prohibited)

Switzerland (since March 14, 2012 import of live cetaceans banned)




Canada (capture and exploitation of beluga whales banned; orca breeding banned)

Hawaiian Islands,

Netherlands Antilles,





Puerto Rico

Croatia (ban on keeping cetaceans in captivity — since June 19, 2009)


India (ban on keeping dolphins in captivity since May 17, 2013; declares dolphins and whales as “non-human person”)

Mexico (traveling dolphin shows banned in 2015).

What Does All This Tell Us That We Have To Do…That We Actually CAN DO?

The whole world is moving towards a new era, where enslavement of animals simply is not acceptable anymore – all while Russia is thousands of steps behind. Why?  It is not the country and rather the lack of awareness within the Russian society as to what is really going on with these mammals.  Owners of these horrible commercial displays take advantage of this lack of awareness and create demand through clever marketing … and then meet that “demand” with their supply of this incredibly cruel and sadistic form of “entertainment”. So it is that people’s desire to see the dolphins, and their lack of understanding of the cruelty inherent to every dolphinarium fills the pockets of millionaires and exposes these beautiful creatures to eternal never-ending torment.

Every single person who buys a ticket end up involved in this cruel entertainment. And we’re only talking about the fate of those dolphins who survive being captured.

The truth is that 50% of dolphins die during the capture process. And this Russian marine mammal “Captivity Industry” fuels the horrific Japan Dolphin Hunt in Taiji, whose inhumane cruelty was exposed in the Oscar winning documentary “The Cove” to be the evil that it is. “The Cove” exposes the slaughter of dolphins and porpoises off the coast of Japan every year. Dolphin meat, containing toxic levels of mercury, is sold as food in Japan and other parts of Asia, often labeled as whale meat.

And, alas, the remaining dolphins are sold to dolphinariums and marine parks around the world, including Russia and Ukraine.



Three Things that the Russian Government Can Do Right Now

Here are three things that Russian Government can do right now to take a leadership position on this issue:

  • First and the most important, provide strict enforcement of ban on illegal capture of dolphins in Russia. It’s absolutely ridiculous that when poachers can capture and sell dolphins, nobody does anything about it. What kind of civil law is that?! Now is a perfect time to fix it! It’s time to pass a national law for the whole of Russia that prohibits capture of marine mammals. What a magnificent way Russia can join with other countries to protect dolphins, beluga whales and orcas!
  • Second, ban the most inhumane type of “entertainment” for good. Traveling dolphinariums are considered as a thing of the past in most countries in the world. Russia is a civilized country, so it can and should do exactly what other civilized countries do. Not only is this the right thing to do, but It’s the only thing to do.
  • Third, ban the import of dolphins from other countries and especially from Japan. Today, in Russia, there are no laws even slightly regulating the importation of dolphins. Thus, Russia is effectively supporting the massive dolphin slaughter in Japan where over 20 000 dolphins are massacred every year with many others kidnapped and sold to dolphinariums all over the world (including Russia). Just recently World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) suspended the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) since they acquire dolphins from the horrendous Taiji (Japan) dolphin hunt. WAZA also requires all members to adhere to policies that prohibit participating in cruel and non-selective methods of taking animals from the wild. All members of WAZA must confirm that they will not acquire dolphins from Taiji, Japan – Russia included.



What YOU CAN DO Right Now

There are five simple, easy steps that YOU, TOO can take right now to help put an end to this cruelty once and for all.

  • One simple and very powerful step that everyone can take is to stop buying tickets to captive dolphin shows. Every ticket to dolphins’ shows that people buy only prolongs and ensures that dolphins will stay in their sordid little compartments with fetid water, perhaps forever.
  • Go to and Take The Pledge To NOT Buy A Ticket To A Dolphin Show.
  • Tell your children the truth about what is really happening to dolphins and orcas in captivity. Show your kids where to look on the internet for the truth about what the world knows, and what we as people can do to put a stop to this terrible practice.
  • Every person with access to the Internet can also play a direct role to help stop this atrocity. It’s very simple: Spread the Word! Share the Information set forth here with your family, friends, and acquaintances.  Most people don’t even know what they are paying for when they buy a ticket to dolphin show. People think those dolphins are happy because they seem to be smiling and splashing about.  That “happy” look is just an illusion, and a tragic illusion, because that dolphin smile is a great deception. Became a voice for dolphins. We need you. The dolphins need you!
  • Go to and sign the worldwide petition calling on Russia to join with the civilized world to put a stop, once and for all, to the awful practices that today result inside Russia in the worst treatment that captive dolphins and orcas face anywhere in the world.

For more information go to Find out right now about what YOU can do to end this mistreatment of these dolphins and orcas in Russia once and for all.


To learn more about dolphins in captivity go to

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