First time in the country: After birds, Russian marine animals make way to Karachi

Published: January 5, 2014
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Stephen, the Beluga, (L) performs along with Ukrainian trainer Inga Strekach (R) during the show at the Maritime Museum in Karachi. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Stephen, the Beluga, (L) performs along with Ukrainian trainer Inga Strekach (R) during the show at the Maritime Museum in Karachi. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Stephen, the Beluga, (L) performs along with Ukrainian trainer Inga Strekach (R) during the show at the Maritime Museum in Karachi. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS Memo, the sea lion, practices balancing before a show at the Maritime Museum in Karachi. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS
KARACHI: 

Three marine mammals have made their way to Karachi, following the migratory birds that come to the warmer coast in the winter months.

The dolphin, the beluga and the sea lion have been brought in especially for a water show that will be the first of its kind to take place in Pakistan. You will be able to catch the dolphin jumping high, the beluga singing its heart out and the sea lion giving a stellar performance once the show starts in the second week of January at the Maritime Museum. The performances will last nearly an hour in which people will be able to see how friendly the animals are.

The organisers claimed that such a dolphin show has never even happened in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or India. In fact, India used to have such dolphin shows in the past but, nearly a year ago, New Delhi forbade captive dolphin shows after it declared dolphins as non-human persons on account of their superior intelligence and feelings. The organisers said their only aim was to bring to the people, who cannot afford to visit other countries, a live show of international standards. “It [the show] also aims to create awareness about the species’ human-friendly nature,” said Ali, one of the organisers, at the special demo show they held for the media on Saturday. All three species are highly trained and only understand the ‘indications’ of their masters – Fauad Sharif, who deals with Boris the dolphin and Memo the sea lion, and Inga Strekach, who trains Stephen the beluga. Until the show is open for the public, the three mammals exercise with Sharif and Strekach twice a day so they can understand the new environment.

Sharif, a trainer from Egypt, felt honoured to be a part of the first dolphin show in Pakistan. “I am a bit excited and worried about the public attitude in Pakistan,” Sharif told The Express Tribune. “I hope the people of Karachi will like the performances of these marine mammals.”

His colleague, Strekach, is equally excited to be in Pakistan. “It is not easy to deal with these species. I hope people will love to see this show,” she smiled, as she fed Stephen the beluga.

The dolphin, the beluga and the sea lion have been brought in especially for a water show which starts from the second week of January at the Maritime Museum. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

“We have managed all arrangements for these species according to international standards,” pointed out Tarim Zaidi, the coordination director of the dolphin show. “We are expecting an extraordinary response,” he added.

He clarified that they took no-objection certificates from all stakeholders before making all the arrangements. “It is not an easy task to bring these marine mammals here,” Zaidi said. “They are also being provided a better environment.”

Nevertheless, taking care of these animals is a challenging task. The beluga is nearly 14 feet long while the dolphin is 6.5 feet long. The sea lion is, however, only about 3.5 feet long. The animals will stay in Pakistan for a good part of this year – depending on the response the organisers receive. After Karachi, the three stars are expected to make an appearance in Lahore and Islamabad as well.

Once the show opens for the public, a special show will be held every day for students and disabled persons between 10am and 11am. Apart from this, two shows will be held in the evening for the general public. A special stadium with a capacity of 2,000 persons and a large pool has been built especially for the purpose.

The show has been planned to go on for around two months but the organisers said they will be willing to extend it if they receive an overwhelming response. Advanced booking for the show have already started at the organiser’s booth at the Maritime Museum.

Watch a slideshow of pictures from their performance here.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2014. 

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Jan 5, 2014 - 2:58AM

    can’t we leave poor innocent animal alone to nature and stop trying to get entertainment and minting money out of everything even by desturbing innocent creature peace and privacy.

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  • Jan 5, 2014 - 10:17AM

    Watched the show. It was simply amazing.Recommend

  • ironMan!
    Jan 5, 2014 - 10:24AM

    Can’t wait to see the show. Welcome to Pakistan.

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  • AK
    Jan 5, 2014 - 11:01AM

    spending 550 rupees for watching these animals in ‘real’ for merely 1 hour ‘Absolutely’ doesn’t makes any sense, better to watch on YouTube while enjoying your snacks.

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  • AK
    Jan 5, 2014 - 11:08AM

    They should have kept cost reasonable (I guess 200 rupees would be within range of general public). otherwise this is clearly meant for elite class. I understand they spent huge amount on these animals (bringing and all arrangements) , but still price is looking too high or show length should be extended to 1 hour more so that 550 rupee could be justified.

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  • Ali S
    Jan 5, 2014 - 11:21AM

    Let’s pray these beautiful creatures stay safe and well guarded, considering the pathetic state of human life in this city.

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  • Emran
    Jan 5, 2014 - 12:33PM

    NO one here to appreciate the idea, all minds filled with negativity and have forgot to encourage.

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  • Ammar
    Jan 5, 2014 - 1:40PM

    People just cant withstand a positive thing in our country.. Guys ! I have watched Dolphin show in Riyadh KSA and it was awesome .Really happy to see such kind of entertainment options are available in our country.

    We would happily spend 550 Rs on dhoom 3 nonsense but …..

    I would strongly recommend to go watch this atleast once (Take your kids along)

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  • Norfolkwren
    Jan 5, 2014 - 3:01PM

    Cetaceans have special cells associated with emotions, called spindle cells, previously found only in humans and the great apes and they do not deserve to suffer in captivity but should be left free to roam the oceans in their family groups NOT used for human entertainment
    Watch Blackfish. Support Sea Shepherd

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  • ZZQ
    Jan 5, 2014 - 3:21PM

    Was a wonderful show. Even since my childhood I used to believe v cannot see such a show in Pakistan and Karachi. Great Effort and great entertainment

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  • Jan 5, 2014 - 8:16PM

    This is a throwback to an imperialist exploitation of animals – when the commissioned vessels would come back from some dark corner of the world, they would bring back “specimens” to charge the masses to watch.

    We’ve evolved beyond both that imperialist and exploitative model. Please stop exploiting both humans and nonhumans in this circus atmosphere.

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  • CW
    Jan 5, 2014 - 8:48PM

    ‘The organisers claimed that such a dolphin show has never even happened in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or India’…..maybe thats because India has (and rightly so ) banned the keeping of dolphins in captivity stating that ‘cetaceans in general do not survive well in captivity….Confinement in captivity can seriously compromise the welfare and survival of all types of cetaceans by altering their behaviour and causing extreme distress’
    what a shame Russia couldnt learn from their example and instead chose to capture these poor animals from their natural habbitat, ripping them away from their families and subject them to shortened, miserable lives stuck in tiny concrete pool and starved to ‘encorage’ them to perform tricks tiny portions of dead fish.

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  • Please don’t visit this there is nothing to be learnt from captives. You would learn more watching wild animals on you tube or TV. These creatures live in family groups not as singles, and have been stolen from the wild. Please follow India, UK, Switzerland and many other countries in banning these types of shows.
    Thank you

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  • Paula Saracen
    Jan 6, 2014 - 7:25PM

    This is a horrific exploitation of these amazing sentient creatures. This must stop!Recommend

  • Daniel Jost
    Jan 7, 2014 - 12:28AM

    “The organisers claimed that such a dolphin show has never even happened in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or India. They said their only aim was to bring to the people, who cannot afford to visit other countries, a live show of international standards. “It [the show] also aims to create awareness about the species’ human-friendly nature,” said Ali, one of the organisers, at the special demo show they held for the media on Saturday.”

    Do we need a live dinosaur show to understand dinosaurs? No, and yet almost every kid knows a whole lot about them. The secret is called TEACHING OUR CHILDREN TO CONTROL THEIR DESIRESRecommend

  • ka
    Jan 7, 2014 - 10:20AM

    @ZZQ:

    i hope we all must appreciate the organizers, coz it will not only enhance metropolis look of khi but will also a better source of entertainment

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  • Norfolkwren
    Jan 7, 2014 - 10:04PM

    @Emran:
    WE are only being negative as the captivity of such intelligent animals is horrendously cruel. How would you like to be put in a small cage & asked to perform tricks for other people and thrown food only when you did so successfully?
    Many countries can see how wrong captivity is & have already banned it for cetaceans
    Look for something else other than the captive animal world for entertainment.
    There are plenty of informative documentaries & films available if you want to learn about dolphins!

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  • K T
    Jan 7, 2014 - 10:11PM

    I understand that this is enjoyable entertainment but please see that it is wrong to make these animals suffer by keeping them in small spaces like birds in cages. The ‘training’ and transport that happens out of the eyes of the public can be horrific, cruel and very sad. Well done, India, for banning this.

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  • Daniel Jost
    Jan 8, 2014 - 12:08AM

    In the same line of this interesting discussion, I’ve written to Lonely Planet to try to get them to stop promoting captive marine mammal facilities. The first thread can be found here: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?messageID=21134542′ async defer=’defer

    After they closed the thread for some reason I opened a second one here: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?newPost=true&messageID=21184358&#21184358′ async defer=’defer

    Everyone is welcome to contribute;-)

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  • LuvPak
    Feb 12, 2014 - 7:02AM

    All friends who are against the idea of animal road show tell me how you are going to create love and appreciation for wild life in Pakistan where most every wild creature life is under threat from hungry or ruthless mob of rich and affluent, show-off & ignorant?

    As a matter of fact; Public understanding & appreciation of these creatures was the goal behind such shows. What any of “sympathisers” have done to save any animal of Pak wild life endangered species? These animals are well taken care off & loved by their trainers. It’s not 18th century treatment of animals in captivity.

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