Russian officials said on November 10 that they had released the last of dozens of beluga whales whose captivity alongside killer whales in a 'whale jail' in the Far East prompted an international outcry and Kremlin intervention.
Images of some of the 97 belugas and orcas in the Srednyaya Bay pens shocked the Russian and international publics and drew complaints from as far afield as Hollywood actor and environmental advocate Leonardo DiCaprio.
A Russian federal research institute said the last 31 beluga whales -- the mostly white cetacean native to the Arctic and sub-Arctic and known for its canary-like 'song' -- were freed into the wild in the Bay of Assumption off the southern coast of southern Primorsky Krai, on the Sea of Japan on November 10.
'This was the final release,' Interfax quoted the press service of the Pacific branch of the Russian Federal Research Institute for Fisheries and Oceanography as saying. 'No animals remain in the whale jail.'
Experts and animal-rights groups had debated the best approach to freeing the whales since President Vladimir Putin and other officials intervened earlier this year to order the releases.
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