Pressure by the actor, and environmentalists to stop the captivity of around 100 whales in Russia forces officials to take action against the harsh conditions under which the whales have been held captive.
When he is not acting and winning applauds, awards for his acting, Leonardo DiCaprio is busy trying to promote the cause of the environment, engaging in conservation efforts and speaking out against injustice meted to any form of wildlife. DiCaprio is one of those celebrities who is genuinely trying to make a visible difference in the fight against climate change, something he described as the" single biggest threat that faces our species" during his 2016 Oscar winning speech. So when Leo speaks everyone takes note and listens, even if it's one of the most powerful man in the world, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Recently, DiCaprio put out a tweet highlighting the inhumane captivity of whales, mainly orcas and belugas, in certain parts of Russia in support of a petition to release the mammals from these 'jails'. The petition was started on Change.org Canada and asked for 100,000 signatures but even before it reached its mark the petition achieved its aim, one of the reasons being DiCaprio, of course. After he put out his tweet, Putin took a personal interest in the matter and asked for the captive animals to be freed immediately reports Metro News.
#Orcas & belugas are being held captive in small cages in a Russian bay. A winter cold snap is freezing the bay: the lives of these whales hang in the balance.— Change.org Canada (@CdnChange) February 25, 2019
Sign & share to let Russian authorities know it's time to free these whales before they die: https://t.co/h41DNM904b. pic.twitter.com/0op1rXxPt6
Signed!! I hope this petition would end right away this stupidity of captivating the gorgeous Whales . Beluga whale is my fav animal , my heart is broken by just reading this.— Embra Dahim Baunding (@LouisEmbra) February 26, 2019
The video shared on his Twitter account first shows two orcas in frozen waters of Russia. While one is moving, the other appears to be stationary. One of the animal's name is Kirill. Text in the video then reads: Frozen and weak, he barely moves. He is slowly dying in "whale jail" in Russian Lividia. The video then cuts to another place where there are a number of orcas and belugas are in a pool and people are hauling ice from it.
Text from the video further reads: And not only him there are hundreds of whales in small frozen pools in Srednaya Russia. You can help save Kirill and others. Sign this petition. The two places mentioned in the video, Livadia, and Srednyaya are places where largescale torture of sea creatures such as the whales take place. According to CBS News, whales were being held in cages in Srednyaya Bay near the Sea of Japan port town of Nakhodka. First images of these 'whale jails' appeared last year.
As many as 90 beluga whales and 12 orca whales were believed to be held at the facility. Environmentalists also first reported the disappearance of one orca early last month. Local prosecutors have also said that three other orcas escaped. The creatures were living in extremely pitiable conditions in anticipation of being sold to Chinese aquariums. Most of the mammals in these jails have been in captivity since the summer of 2018. the report said.
The petition also pointed out that the whales are being held in tiny enclosures. The petition reads: This is the largest number of sea creatures to ever be held in small temporary enclosures. Some of them have been there since July. Marine mammal experts claim that those animals were being sold to Chinese aquariums, despite the fact that legally they are only supposed to be used for scientific and educational work. In China there are thousands of millions of dollars to be made on these whales.
It further highlighted that as many as 11 orcas, five baby walruses and 90 baby belugas are being held in enclosures. Of the total belugas,15 are just around a year old and therefore, completely dependent on their mothers for survival. The petition reads: Yearlings need to be in constant tactile contact with a parent - in case of danger their mother will fight to the death to keep them alive. Capturing whales this young is banned in Russia.
While the export of marine mammals has been stopped, the petition highlights that the problem now is that these animals are stuck in 'whale prison' whilst the authorities try to find the perpetrators and work out the right procedural decision to make. 'Independent experts are seriously worried that the animals will die if they are kept in these conditions much longer. Whale babies who have not received enough mother's milk will not survive the winter,' the petition further adds.
Besides DiCaprio, Pamela Anderson is another celebrity that has come out in total support to free the whales, said the CBS report. Following the growing pressure by environmentalist and celebrities' attention, the Russian government finally decided to act. In an interaction with a Russian news channel, the CBS report quotes Ecology Minister Dmitry Kobylkin as saying, "We are doing everything we can. No one objects to releasing the orcas, but the most important thing is to release them properly."
Also during a meeting held by the Ministry of Natural Resources Monday, representatives unanimously concluded the importance of minimizing further harm to animals during efforts to return them to their natural environment, the report further said.