Look! Its Flipper in a Swimming Pool

1997 > Russia

Mamilian exploitation depresses us all, but not the Russians

I like Russian sports, and I love going to sporting events
with my Russian host brother, Dima.
So I try to go with him when I find out about upcoming events.
Strangely, we rarely go to sporting events, usually getting
sidetracked to strange places instead. Today is a good example.

Last week Dima and I talked about going to a basketball game. He
was very excited about going to a game, and Pasha, his brother was quite
keen on joining us. I called him on Wednesday to see when the next
game was. In my poor Russian and his funky English we had a long
conversation, during which I was quite confused. I understood that
there wasn’t a b-ball game soon, and that we would go somewhere else
instead. He said (in Russian), ‘Its a cincinnati, the same in
English too, a cincinnati, with the big fish, Flipper.’

Now I know there is a city in America called Cincinnati, and I know
that Flipper is a dolphin, something like a big fish, but I was quite
confused. I asked around, and several stumped Russians later, I
found out that we were going to a delfinaria where dolphins would
perform for us. Hmm. I am always very wary of anything
involving animals in Russia after seeing the circus and walking by the
Moscow Zoo. Neither would come close to pleasing the Humane
Society, much less a PETA activist.

The delfinaria did not disappoint me. A diving pool, minus the
lane floats served as the home for a Beluga whale, four bottlenose
dolphins, two seals, and a sea lion. Close quarters for the
whale and the dolphins, especially since I didn’t notice any water lanes
for them to leave the pool for the old lap lanes in an adjacent pool
behind the bleachers. Of course the four Beluga whales in the old lap
lanes would not want that many new neighbours anyway. I’ve been
behind the scenes at Sea World (and this was nuttin like that!),
viewing all the massive pumps and filters they use to maintain a clean
yet balanced water climate for the mammals. I know a converted
swimming pool doesn’t have large enough pumps and Russians sure wouldn’t
put in super filters, so the water was questionable at best and a crime
at the worst. The scene was especially painful since I’ve played with
dolphins in the wild.

During the show, I could help but to think how, compared to the open
ocean, these poor creatures were in jail, a jail without an aquatic
version of tv, friends, or a yard, just confinement for the pleasure of
humans. Oh the humans were pleased too. I guess Muscovites
don’t get out much, because everyone was amazed and thrilled by the
quite limited show. Marineland, Sea World’s poor cousin, puts on a
Broadway show compared to this place. All the mammals did was jump
out of the water and wave with their flippers. Oh, the usual ball
balancing too. The tired show was followed by the chance to have a
photo with the whale jumping out of the water to touch your hand, or the
dolphins jumping onto the deck so you could have a photo touching them.
About half the crowd put down $10 a pop for the photo opportunity.

The whole setup was sad. The Russians were going for a Sea
World in Moscow, a city not known to be kind to humans, much less ocean
mammals! All I can say is that I was glad it was an indoor
pool, so the dolphins wouldn’t freeze to death. The Beluga, sea
lion, and seals would probably prefer to be cold.

Oh, one last annoying point. O’Neill apparently sponsors the
show, with six huge banners around the pool. I’m never gonna buy
their stuff again now. They gotta have a conscience before they
start dropping cash on such mammalian exploitation.