Free the 3 Orcas Captured in Taiji '97

Four years have passed since the capture of 5 orcas at Taiji in Wakayama prefecture. Within 4 months of the capture, the smallest male and the female that was thought to be pregnant died, and the remaining 3 are still being kept in isolation from each other in separate aquariums. Wild orcas are said to live their whole lives with their families. Our concern is whether the 3 captive would be able to recognize each other if they were to be released. Another problem concerns the remaining family of the captive orcas. At the time of the capture, there were 5 other family members that were released back into the ocean. Normally, the leader role of the pod is passed on from the mother orca to the young female orca. Is the pod able to survive without the young female orca, and if so, where is the pod now?

We believe that if the aquarium's claim that the '97 capture was for educational purposes is true, then they should take the responsibility for the aftercare of the orcas and implement their research in future courses of action. This would lead to more information on the ecology of orcas in Japan's coastal waters, which is close to nothing thus far. Of course, this does not legitimize the act of capturing orcas for educational purposes.

The rule proposed by the Fisheries Agency and the Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens & Aquariums, which are considered to have at least some power in Japan, is that "Orcas may not be used in shows". This rule was broken within a year. Sources say that at the aquarium Adventure World, which became infamous for its cruelty towards its elephants, orcas are also being mistreated by being trained with bamboo whips. This is the reality of the so-called "educational purposes".

We believe that the 3 captive orcas should be released together in the same waters they were captured in. Hopefully it is not too late. The news of an orca swimming into Nagoya Port last February is still fresh in our memory. Perhaps this indicates a possibility of orcas making regular excursions there at this time of year. What you can do to help is write to the 3 aquariums listed below and appeal for the release of the orcas. Also, we would appreciate any appeals to the Fisheries Agency and Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens & Aquariums demanding a stop to this kind of immoral conduct.

  • Taiji Whale Museum --fax.+81-7355-9-3823
  • Nanki-Shirahama Adventure World --fax. +81-739-43-3345
  • Izu-Mito Sea Paradise --fax. +81-559-43-2336
  • the Fisheries Agency --fax. +81-3-3502-8220
  • Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens & Aquariums-- fax.+81-3-3837-1231