|December 12, 2003:
FREE WILLY- KEIKO FOUNDATION / THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE US
KEIKO, THE MOST FAMOUS WHALE IN THE WORLD, DIES IN NORWAY
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Free Willy Keiko Foundation and The Humane
Society of the United States (HSUS) reported today that Keiko, the
orca whale, died today in the Taknes fjord, Norway, in the company
of staff members who have been caring for him there.
|December 5, 2003:
There are plans to start a new orca display at The Palm, Jebel Ali, in the United Arab Emirates. It is one of two islands expected to open in 2007, featuring a range of luxury hotels. Including an aquarium with a killer whale stadium (more information here).
In addition to that, some rumours are flowing that the Dolphinarium at Harderwijck, Netherlands, which has had orcas until they sent Gudrun to SeaWorld, tries to get an orca.
|October 31, 2003:
On October 24, the captured Russian female orca died. The circumstances are not known yet. She survived not even one month in captivity. Unfortunately the Russian authorities have approved to catch another 6 orcas in 2004 despite this disaster!
|October 28, 2003:
As assumed earlier, Ku was moved today from Taiji Whaling Museum to Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium, which is having their first orca now. They had plans to acquire more whales through Russia. Also brought from Taiji was a bottlenose dolphin as a best friend of Ku. It is said that Ku was loaned to Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium for five years with 30 million Japanese yen per year. Two aquariums will carry 'joint research' of artificial insemination which is the first attempt in Japan. Ku's transfer leaves Nami alone again at Taiji Whaling Museum.
|October 16, 2003:
Already last December Hudson at Marineland Ontario had to be separated from the main orca group including his mother Kiska because Nootka V, the dominant female at Marineland, showed some agressive signs towards Hudson. So the trainers separated them and he's now with Kandu VII. Hudson's behaviour has changed a lot since Algonquin died and the separation took place. He is reunited with his mother from time to time.
|October 13, 2003:
YOUNG ORCA KILLED IN CAPTURE ATTEMPT
Sources have confirmed that a juvenile and a young calf were amongst a group of orcas targeted in a capture attempt in Russia last month. The juvenile became entangled in the net, suffocated and died. The remaining animals, except for one female, were subsequently released.
The group of orcas was captured on September 26th in the remote Russian Far East, where the WDCS-funded Far East Russia Orca Project, has been researching these animals since 1999. The female orca was taken to a floating pen in the area and later transferred by charter plane to Anapa on the Black Sea where the Utrish Aquarium has one of its facilities.
This is the first time in six years that an orca has been captured alive for the captivity industry. WDCS is very worried about the welfare and survival of the female concerned and the members of her family group that were left behind. It is possible that this capture will set a precedent for further captures in Russian waters, leading to a revival of international trade in these animals by the captivity industry.
ACTION ALERT - YOU CAN HELP
Please help us in our campaign to stop further captures, by protesting to the Russian authorities and letting them know that this capture is unacceptable to the international community. Please send a polite letter to the Russian Minister of Natural Resources, Vitaly G. Artyukhov at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information and an example letter please go to: WDCS
Please also send your letter and a copy of any responses that you receive to email@example.com.
Canada`s OrcaLab reported more information about the first capture of a Russian orca. The captive is a 430cm long female orca weighing about 1100kg. On October 6th she was flown to the Utrish Marine Station of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences on the coast of the Black Sea where she will be used "in various scientific investigations" according to Dr. Lev Mukhametov of the Utrish Dolphinarium in a letter to OrcaLab`s director Dr. Paul Spong.
A long time opponent of orca captures, Spong obtained the information in response to a faxed inquiry to the Utrish Dolphinarium. Noting "the ugly history of orca captures in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere" Spong expressed empathy for the captive and other family members who were "certainly subjected to terrifying circumstances". Unverified reports have it that one family member was entangled in nets during the capture and drowned. Spong is particularly concerned about the long term consequences of the capture, noting that "it opens the door to a whole new era of orca roundups that could fill the tanks of the captive industry for decades". Mark Berman of Earth Island Institute and the Free Willy Keiko Foundation commented "this tragic event is certain to provoke outrage from around the world and I simply can't understand why Russia would invite it."
The Russian government has issued permits for the capture of 10 orcas in the Kamchatka region during 2003.
For further information:
Dr. Paul Spong, OrcaLab:
Tel/fax: +1 (250) 974-8068
Mark Berman, Earth Island Institute, Free Willy Keiko Foundation:
Tel: +1 (415) 788-3666; Fax: +1-415-788-7324
Dr. Lev Mukhametov, Utrish Dolphinarium:
Tel/fax: +7 (095)958-1260
Dr. Dmitry S. Pavlov, Director A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution
Tel: +7 (095) 952-2088
Fax: +7 (095) 954-5534
For television media:
B roll of Russian orcas available via:
Michael Harris, Outpost Media Inc.
Tel: +1 (206) 467-6722
Fax: +1 (206) 447-9623
|October 8, 2003:
Loro Parque, situated in Tenerife, Spain, is supposed to start keeping killer whales next year. Contact have already been made with SeaWorld. They will sent 4 whales to Tenerife, 2 from Orlando and 2 from San Diego. Trainers from Loro Parque are at SeaWorld to learn how to work with the whales and trainers from SeaWorld will join the whales to Tenerife for the first few months. Construction of the new pool will not be at Loro Parque itself but near a waterpark called Octopus at the other side of the island. At the moment Loro Parque is waiting for permits to begin with the construction. .
|October 5, 2003:
Stella's third calf has been named Sarah.
|October 1, 2003:
Outrage as first orca is captured in Russian waters
WDCS has just received news of the capture of a female orca, or killer whale - the first known capture from a population living in one of the remotest regions on Earth.
Pictures and video of the capture!
Personal note: on September 15, 2003, the scientific team of the Russian Far East Orca Project had finished the research season and left the area. It seems that the captors had only waited for that to happen, so they could do their business without gaining much attention. As the Russian aquarium has no experience with orcas, this poor juvenile has not much chance to last long...
|September 14, 2003: Inspectors threatening to close Miami Seaquarium
Wiring, bridge over sharks among the safety violations
Miami-Dade County building officials closed sections of the venerable Miami Seaquarium on Friday and threatened to shut down the entire attraction after surprise inspections uncovered scores of safety violations in its public areas.
The violations include exposed electrical wiring, crumbling concrete and loose, corroded guardrails on stairways and viewing decks -- including the bridge over the shark moat.
Seaquarium's operators immediately began some repairs, and the park will remain open this weekend after some areas that inspectors said were unsafe because of loose guardrails or other problems were cordoned off -- including the two upper-story decks at the main reef tank. Gaps in the shark-pit bridge fence were temporarily covered with plywood panels.
But county building chief Charles Danger gave the park until Monday to repair a long list of electrical violations.
''They have Saturday and Sunday to clean it up. If it's not fixed by Monday, I will shut them down,'' Danger said in an interview, citing ``exposed wires everywhere, open electrical boxes everywhere, light posts where the wiring is bad everywhere.''
Danger said the county's inspection, prompted by a videotape of park conditions made by animal-rights activists, found abundant evidence of shoddy, patchwork maintenance, jerry-rigged wiring and long-neglected repairs throughout the nearly 50-year-old Seaquarium.
''You can see they were patching here and patching there, and patching on patches, and they have been doing this for some time,'' Danger said. ``That doesn't work when you have a corrosive environment. Now they have gotten a wake-up call. They're going to have to fix it up fast if they want to keep it open.''
The immediate focus is on life-safety issues in public areas, Danger said. But inspectors also compiled a lengthy list of less-urgent code violations at all 15 buildings at the park, which has been given 30 days to make those repairs.
Especially alarming, he said, was the condition of many of the handrails and guardrails that protect visitors and employees from falling into fish tanks or tumbling down stairs. The anchors on some, in particular at the reef tank, were so corroded they were ''completely gone'' and would not hold up if anyone leaned against them, Danger said.
County inspectors also discovered a crew doing repair work on the manatee tank without required permits.
Seaquarium operators did rapidly complete repairs at the home of its star attraction, Lolita the Killer Whale. Danger allowed the stands surrounding her tank to reopen Friday after they were shut down for a day because of corroded guardrails and deteriorated canopy support beams.
The citations come as Seaquarium is embroiled in a controversy over an agreement that allows it to pave over 6.5 acres of lushly landscaped public green space across the Rickenbacker Causeway for 500 parking spaces.
Danger sent inspectors out to Seaquarium earlier in the week after receiving a videotape of alleged violations from Russ Rector, whose Broward County-based Dolphin Freedom Foundation has long criticized the attraction's practice of holding and exhibiting marine mammals.
Rector said members of his group made the video in public areas of the Seaquarium after noticing numerous instances of exposed wires, cracked concrete and loose handrails during visits to the park to check on its animals' welfare.
He said the violations show park administrators have as little regard for its patrons and employees as for its animals.
''I may be an animal activist, but people come first in my book,'' he said, citing the thousands of children who visit the park every year on field trips. ``They were willing to play with the lives of these kids to save a few bucks.''
PROBLEMS FOR YEARS
Many problems uncovered Thursday and Friday likely went unnoticed by the county for years, Danger said.
The reason, he said, is that inspections are usually carried out only in the case of complaints or when owners obtain permits to do work. In those cases, however, inspectors examine only the complaint area or the permitted work.
Structures older than 40 years must be inspected and re-certified every 10 years, Danger said -- a rule that covers many of Seaquarium's buildings, some of which are nearing 50 years of age.
But those inspections are carried out by private engineers hired by the owners, who certify to the county the buildings meet required codes.
Private engineers working for Seaquarium might have misled the county in at least one case, Danger said.
Personal note: It was about time that the horrendous state of the Miami Seaquarium facility got the public's attention. This place has been rotten since many years and despite all those yearly promises by owner Arthur Hertz, nothing was done about it.
|September 11, 2003:
Rumours that Sharkan at Marineland Antibes has given birth to a new calf turned out to be false. This was confirmed both by the facility and independent visitors.
|September 6, 2003:
Stella's third calf, first declared as a boy, turned out to be little girl! Kamogawa Sea World, Japan, had a poll taken for the name, but the result hasn't been announced yet. Maybe they named "him" Harry and have to revote now :-)
|September 5, 2003:
Rumours that Tilikum at SeaWorld Florida is in serious health trouble turned out to be exaggerated. He had been taken out of the show for a while for a minor lung infection and an infected fluke injury but is fine again. But especially with lung infections it's important to stay alert because that is the major cause of death among captive cetaceans.
|June 8, 2003:
After being absent for more than ten years, famous transient Charlie Chin has apparently been sighted again off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Charlie Chin had been captured in March 1970 and escaped in October the same year under mysterious circumstances. He was seen quite often, easy to identify because of his weird looks, but disappeared in 1992. Transients, marine mammal eating orcas of the Pacific Northwest, are not seen very regularly. Big gaps between sightings have happened before, quite contrary to their fish eating relatives, the Residents. It would be great to have him back!
|June 3, 2003:
On the evening of May 31st, Stella at Kamogawa Sea World, Japan, gave birth to her third calf. The father of the little boy is Bingo. Stella has two other calves with Lovey, born in 1998, and Lara, born in 2001.
|June 1, 2003:
A new campaign has started to rehabilitate and hopefully release Kshamenk at Mundo Marino near Buenos Aires, Argentina. Kshamenk has been forced to strand in September 1992 and is in rather bad condition caused by a cooling system that is way too weak for the tank system. At the same time there are efforts by Six Flags of Ohio to import Kshamenk and put him together with young female Shouka.
|May 15, 2003:
An Argentinian TV station showed a documentary about Kshamenk at Mundo Marino. It's in spanish but the pictures speak very much for themselves! If it's no longer featured on the front page, you'll have to search for the file MUNDO MARINO.DOC at BUSCADOR DE VIDEOS.
|April 26, 2003:
Freya at Marineland Antibes, France, had another stillbirth on April 1, 2003. That's the fourth time she lost her baby, only 1996 born Valentin made it. Freya is eating well, her blood samples are fine and she's back to "her old self again". Quite a tragic history of pregnancies, almost as bad as Corky's.
|April 12, 2003:
Six Flags Worlds of Adventure Ohio has received another setback in its effort to import a killer whale from Argentina to start a breeding program at the Bainbridge Township amusement park. The Argentine government recently denied a permit to transfer an 11-year-old male orca from a Buenos Aires aquarium to Northeast Ohio. Six Flags has been trying since 2001 to acquire the whale, Kshamenk, on a breeding loan from Mundo Marino aquarium. Animal-rights groups, who have opposed the transfer, called the denial a victory. Six Flags officials said the park will continue its efforts.
Some personal notes on this issue:
First a minor correction, Kshamenk was captured in 1992, so he's a bit older than 11 years.
Second, I would rather see Kshamenk together with Shouka at Six Flags Ohio than both whales all by themselves in their separate facilities. Mundo Marino isn't treating him as good as it could be because of financial problems and I don't think that he's a great release candidate. He's in poor health and we know close to nothing about his wild relatives off Argentina (he's not one of those famous Patagonian orcas).
|March 29, 2003:
Asahi-Nagoya newspaper release an article this week titled 'we will stop capturing orcas'. The newspaper told that Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium decided not to capture wild orcas in Russian waters. Nagoya Port Authority recently put up Yen 350,000,000 for annual budget of 2003 but as 'there is no evidence to catch orcas in spite of using budget', 'we should consider international opinion (hey!)' the aquarium will try to get orcas from other aquariums. It is said that the aquarium tried to catch orcas for two years and paid Yen 88,000,000 in 2001 and another Yen 18,000,000 in 2002 to traders but failed. Russia is the only possible place to catch orcas but they found that the ecology of orcas in the place is yet to be known . The aquarium is now at the last step in bringing orcas from Taiji on 'breeding loan'. They also thought that it is not good to irritate the US which concentrates cetacean conservation (I was so surprised with that. I think this came because prime minister Koizumi supports the US.). But at the end the paper reported that the aquarium doesn't abandon the plan completely. 'There is no trader who offers the capture of orcas in Russia but if the aquarium gets such a trader, it will continue investigation for the future (I cannot understand this sentence. I asked the journalist who wrote this and he said it is difficult for them to say that Nagoya totally gave up the plan since a huge amount of money had been used to get orcas).
Anyway, I think this is good news for orcas in Russian water.
IRUKA & KUJIRA (Dolphin & Whale) ACTION NETWORK
|January 26, 2003:
Russia has given a permit to capture up to ten orcas in 2003. Last year's attempts were unsuccessful, hopefully this year ends with the same result. Protests and oppositions against these events are coordinated by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
|January 18, 2003:
Katina's calf of 2002 has been named Ikaika, which is a Hawaiian word for "strength" (pronounced "EE-kai-kuh").
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