While the focus of many animal activists in the U.S. is zeroed in on theme parks like SeaWorld for their captive marine mammals, other aquariums and marine parks are ramping up their orca programs.
According to a report by Leah Thompson, Associate Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society, two wild orcas caught in Russia's Sea of Okhotsk will reportedly appear in the tanks of Ocean Kingdom, a park in Hengqin, China that's been called "the Orlando of China" for its recent surge of parks.
The reports have not yet been confirmed by the park or the company that owns it, the Chimelong Group, the park recently hired an experienced orca trainer. Marine mammal experts and scientists in the country assert that Chimelong has already purchased the orcas. In an even weirder twist, according to a piece by Quartz in February, these are likely orcas that were slated to perform at the Sochi Olympics in Russia, but were shipped to China at the last minute.
If the import did in fact happen, these would be the first case of international trade in orca whales from the wild since Iceland stopped allowing the capture and export of the species in 1990. They would also be the first captive orcas in China -- a fact that worries many animal advocates, who see China as the next frontier for large marine mammals in captivity.