The Asia for Animals (AFA) coalition has sent a letter to Mr. Su Zhigang, chairman of the Guangdong Chimelong Group, to express their "deep concern with regards the capture of killer whales, or orcas, from their natural habitat to reportedly be imported into China to provide entertainment at [your] Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai".
Included within the body of the letter are points on capture, transportation and confinement methods, the natural biology of orca, education in relation to performance shows involving tricks and aggression of orca towards human trainers. It is concluded that orca are not suited to a life in captivity and in such a situation, orca welfare is compromised.
The coalition is appealing to Mr. Zhigang to "organise the release of these whales back into their natural habitat... and to commit to not capturing any marine mammals from the wild for display at Ocean Kingdom in the future."
The AFA coalition represents 15 international organisations, including International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Animals Asia and International Animal Rescue (IAR). A further 132 organisations have signed the letter to show their support. These organisations represent millions of people who are concerned about the welfare of animals and particularly the welfare of these orca.
We spoke with Alan Knight OBE, head of IAR, who told us, "I am horrified that China has started to import wild orca in dolphinariums. These are the first two and I am very worried that they will be followed by more. The capture of wild orca is cruel and serves no educational or scientific purpose. The business is all about making money. We should do everything in our power to stop it and return these majestic animals to their rightful home - the sea."
The coalition agree that due to the short time these orca have spent in captivity, "a return to the wild has a high probability of success if done soon...".
You can read the full letter below: