Orcas at the Olympics

The Sochi Winter Olympics have been troubling me for some time now. They begin on the 7th February and continue through to the 23rd of February. I haven’t decided if I will watch them or not. I usually very much enjoy the Winter Olympics (figure skating and the ski jump are my particular favourites), but I’m not sure if I feel comfortable watching when the hosting country has behaved in a way so contrary to my personal beliefs.

What does this have to do with animal welfare? Well there are reports that Russia have captured two Orcas specifically to display them at Sochi. That link makes the point that the IOC insists that the hosts and the Olympic event ‘respect the environment’.

I don’t know about you, but I have never heard of the Sochi Dolphinarium. I have not heard about their contributions to conservation, how they enrich pens, the massive pools they use to house their animals. After googling I’ve discovered its the largest in Russia, and that they train their animals to do the kind of tricks we criticise SeaWorld for. Apparently their performance pool is a whole 20m long. My goodness, such luxury.

This is of course the action of a private company, not the host city. But that it’s being allowed just adds another layer to my great and growing discomfort about the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Will I really boycott it in my own small way? I guess I’ll let you know.