Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Sochi shame

13 January 2014

Categories: Homepage News, Zoo Check Campaign News, Marine Campaign News

© Davis & Reid

On the understanding that a captive Black Sea dolphin will be used in the Torch relay at the  Sochi Winter Olympic in Russia, the Born Free Foundation, together with  many other wildlife protection organisations, has written to the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Russian Organising Committee, asking for their intervention.

Additionally, the organisations are concerned about the recent wild-capture of orcas in Far East Russian waters and their planned display  in a Sochi dolphinarium, reportedly for the Olympics, to provide public entertainment. Concerned for the protection of these animals and in acknowledgement that these activities seemingly contradict the objectives of the Olympic Movement to protect biodiversity, as well as the Sochi Olympics’ goal to be in ‘harmony with nature’; these matters are being brought to the IOC’s attention.  

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are a species of dolphin. They live in family groups, are highly sociable, display self-awareness and differing cultures and numerous scientific studies have confirmed them to be amongst the most intelligent animals in our oceans. Their recent capture, reportedly from Russian waters in the Sea of Okhotsk, was undoubtedly traumatic for those individuals, as well as their family members, but keeping them in captivity, where biological and behavioural needs are compromised, is likely to be extremely detrimental to their long-term survival. The testimonials presented in the 2013 film documentary, Blackfish, have confirmed that the captivity of orcas is likely to cause both mental and physical suffering. This is not a legacy that the 2014 Winter Olympic Games should leave with the world, especially in view of the desire to promote respect for nature.

The Born Free Foundation (together with the other organisations) has asked for the following:

  1. To stop the inclusion of the endangered Black Sea bottlenose dolphin (from a Sochi dolphinarium) in the Olympic Torch relay;
  2. To ensure that future Olympic Games fully recognise international legislation and in so doing do not jeopardise the welfare of individual animals. 
  3. To amend the IOC’s Section 3.2.10 of Agenda 21, their code of best practice, to ensure future Games do not compromise the physical, biological and behavioural needs of animals. 
  4. To endorse a request to the relevant Russian Authorities to investigate the feasibility of a rehabilitation and release programme for the orca that have been captured.

Born Free would welcome the support of the public by:

  • Writing a letter to the IOC’s President, Mr Thomas Bach, requesting his intervention. Find a standard letter here. OR if you wish to send an email you can do so to
  • Writing a letter to the Russian Olympic Committee’s President, Mr Alexander ZHUKOV, requesting his intervention. Find a standard letter here. OR if you wish to send an email you can do so to

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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