Ukraine Says Military Dolphins Seized by Russia Died ‘Patriotically’ After Hunger Strike

Most of Ukraine’s “dolphin army” has died after Crimea was annexed by Russian forces in 2014, according to The Guardian. The Ukrainian government’s representative in Crimea, Boris Babin, said this week that the dolphins, who lived at the Crimean military dolphin center and were trained to carry out military tasks, died “patriotically” by refusing to eat food or follow orders to eat by the “Russian invaders.” The Russians refused to return the dolphins to the Ukrainians when Crimea was annexed. Babin told a Ukrainian newspaper that the dolphins “refused not only to interact with the new Russian coaches, but refused food and died some time later.” “Many Ukrainian soldiers took their oath and loyalty much less seriously than these dolphins,” he added. Ukrainian politician Vladimir Oleinik denied the claim, telling Russian outlet Sputnik that the “dolphins were not especially looked after under any regime.” Russia’s Duma deputy Dmitry Belik said that the mammals were “sold to commercial entities or died of natural causes before 2014.” In 2016, the newspaper reported that the Russian government sought to buy five dolphins, and ended up buying some in Moscow—perhaps to “persuade their existing pod of Ukrainian dolphins to switch sides.”