Similar to captive orcas at other parks like SeaWorld, activists fear that these whales will be subject to stereotypic, repeated behaviors, isolation from normal social groups and that they lack of exercise (they can cover up to 100 miles a day in the wild).
While Moscow moves forward with whale captivity, other countries around the world are passing legislation to ban cetaceans in tanks. Bolivia, Hungary, Costa Rica, Greece, Cyprus and others have all banned the practice thus far.
Hoyt said that, given the country's track record, the future looks grim for the two whales.
"There have been orcas captured before in Russia and one survived 13 days in an aquarium on the Black Sea a decade ago," he said. "No orcas have yet been put on display for the Russian public so these would be the first - if they survive. With continued delays in the opening of this new facility in Moscow, the difficult conditions they are being kept in, and winter coming on, it's anyone's guess as to their health and survival."