While they wait for an oceanarium to open, a pair of killer whales are sitting in temporary facilities in Moscow—and their cries have been audible for months, animal advocates say. The orcas are living in terrible conditions, the activists say, calling the animals' separate tanks "solitary confinement cells" that could drive them insane and make them a threat to humans, the Moscow Times reports. Officials acknowledge that the animals are living in the facilities, but they have rejected calls to investigate the situation at the VDNKh exhibition center, where, RT reports, the orcas have been for 10 months.
The facility, activists say, is just over 200 feet long; free orcas may swim more than 90 miles per day. "This is a huge stress that could make them dangerous," says Irina Novozhilova, the head of animal activist group Vita. What's more, within concrete walls, the orcas could be deafened by their own echolocation. A police report says the conditions don't amount to animal abuse, which has a very limited definition in Russia, the Moscow Times notes. The animals—a female named Narnia and a male with no name—are set to appear in Europe's largest oceanarium, which was supposed to open this spring; instead, thanks to construction delays, it's likely to open next year. (This whale could be the world's most endangered animal.)