Aquariums

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1995:

An autopsy on a five-year-old dolphin w h o
died of lead poisoning on July 23 at the Luna Park tank
in Tel Aviv found she had ingested about 100 air rifle
bullets. X-rays found that her companion, Fiadora, 12
had also ingested several dozen bullets, and could die
soon without surgery. A third dolphin, Max, died of
unknown causes earlier in the year. All three were
imported from Russia about two and a half years ago.
Ric O’Barry, who staged an eight-day hunger strike to
get such imports stopped in early 1993, told ANIMAL
PEOPLE on August 7 that, “We will have Fiadora con-
fiscated soon, I feel. I will return to Tel Aviv to transfer
her to a sea pen at Elat, on the Red Sea. Then, when
the Sugarloaf Key project is over (page one), I will
rehab and release Fiadora back into the Black Sea off
Turkey. She will be the first Russian Navy dolphin to be
set free,” at least officially; another dolphin believed to
have been trained by the Russian Navy spent the early
summer begging for fish in the harbor at Bakar, Croatia.

ANIMAL PEOPLE has received circumstan-
tial confirmation that the campaign to stop Russian dol-
phin sales to Israel, led by the activist group Let The
Animals Live, may have had a human price: as O’Barry
charged in our July/August issue, a protester and sus-
pected double agent named Jenny Maye, nationality
unclear, was strangled at about the same time in
February 1993 that the Israeli government agreed to halt
dolphin imports. Officially, there are no suspects;
O’Barry believes two Russian gangsters involved in the
dolphin traffic were responsible.
The Vancouver Aquarium announced on
June 26 that it will soon transfer Finna, its 19-year-old
male orca, to another institution, in exchange for a non-
breeding female who can keep Finna’s mate, Bjossa,
company. Bjossa has borne three calves, but none sur-
vived long. Orcas have mostly bred well in captivity,
but Bjossa and Corky, now with Sea World in San
Diego, have had enough failures to markedly depress
the average. On July 23, meanwhile, the Vancouver
beluga Aurora successfully delivered the first beluga calf
conceived and born in a Canadian facility.
Orca author Erich Hoyt on July 18 issued a
global e-mail appeal on behalf of four dolphins and two
sea lions “held in appalling conditions since mid-May in
tiny pens at the busy town quay in Mararis, Turkey.
The animals were brought illegally into Turkey from a
Sebastopol aquarium,” continued Hoyt, “by a Ukraine
company, who leased them from the aquarium as a trav-
eling tourist attraction. Several international organiza-
tions have offered expertise and funds, but before any-
thing can happen, the Turkish government must gain
control of the animals.” Alarmed, the animals’ owners
apparenty spirited them back to the Ukraine.
The Miami Sequarium on July 12 released
three captive-born manatees at the Meritt Island
Halfway House within the Meritt Island Wildlife Refuge
near the Kennedy Space Center. After a month of adap-
tation to eating sea grass, they were to be allowed to
swim free in mid-August, to help replenish the wild
population. At least 110 manatees died through the first
five months of 1995, mostly as result of being hit by
boats, leaving just 1,821 manatees left in Florida.

“Kalina, who in September 1985 was the
first killer whale born at Sea World of Florida, had
her second calf here on June 17,” Sea World research
biologist Daniel Odell told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“Mother and calf are doing well. Her first calf is still
alive and well.” On July 20, both a beluga whale and
an Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin gave birth successfully
at Sea World San Antonio. But at the Shedd Aquarium
in Chicago, Tique, a nine-year-old Pacific whitesided
dolphin on exhibit since the Shedd Oceanarium opened
in 1991, birthed a calf on July 16 who, too weak to
swim, failed to promptly reach the surface for her first
breath of air, and apparently drowned.
The Camden Aquarium, in Camden, New
Jersey, reopened on July 1, after a six-month, $3.75
million remodeling to keep exotic fish instead of drab
native species that few people came to see twice.
Attendance over the July 4 holiday rose to 16,029, up
from 12,617 in 1994.
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