Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio has joined forces with the Russian authorities in calling for the immediate release of around 100 whales held captive in cramped enclosures near Japan to be sold to aquariums and water parks.
A Greenpeace report quoted in local media states that the four Russian companies plan to sell the orcas to Chinese buyers.
The 44-year-old American actor tweeted for his 19 million followers: “Please sign this petition and join me in speaking out against the inhumane capture of orcas and belugas in Russia.”
His campaign follows the news that President Putin’s spin doctor Dmitry Peskov, 51, has called for the four companies holding the marine mammals to release them, adding: “We hope that the issue will be resolved soon and they will be set free.”
The orcas and belugas are reportedly being held in a ‘whale jail’ in a bay near the Sea of Japan in the far-eastern Russian region of Primorsky Krai.
According to reports, Russian authorities have already pressed charges against four companies for illegally keeping around 100 whales and orcas in cramped enclosures in Srednyaya Bay near the city of Nakhodka.
According to animal rights groups, the region is being affected by a cold snap that is freezing over the bay and putting the captive animals’ lives in the balance.
The companies, which are reportedly affiliated, have previously been fined for illegally capturing and selling animals to aquariums and animals parks overseas, according to local media.
It is believed that they are currently holding 11 orca calves and 90 beluga whales with 13 of them being less than a year old.
According to reports, three belugas and one orca have already gone missing from the ‘whale jail’.
American actress Pamela Anderson recently posted an open letter to Putin on her website that said: “News about the ‘whale jail’ near Nakhodka, the icy conditions, and the suffering of the orca and beluga whales is causing international concern.”