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

Daily show expected to start in the second week of January.

Sameer Mandhro/Photo Ayesha Mir January 04, 2014
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

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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COMMENTS (20)

LuvPak | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend 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.
Daniel Jost | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend

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

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

Everyone is welcome to contribute;-)

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