The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced plans that it is seeking to buy five young and healthy dolphins, Russian news sources reported this week.
According to the Russian media company TASS, the defense ministry is willing to pay upward of $25,000 for the dolphins.
Specifically, the Kremlin is looking to buy two females and three males between three and five years of age.
The dolphins must also be between 2.3 meters (7.5 feet) and 2.7 meters (8.9 feet) long.
According toNBC News, Moscow’s Utrish Dolphinarium promised to supply the dolphins “with all teeth intact’ by August 1.
TASS notes that the Ministry of Defense has not specified the reasons it is looking to purchase the marine mammals.
However, an anonymous Russian military source told Russian media company RIA Novosti that the Kremlin wanted the dolphins to add to the stocks of trained dolphins that Russia had seized from Ukraine in Crimea.
Russia seized control of Ukraine’s military-dolphin division in March 2014. The dolphin division was originally created by the Soviet Union, but passed into the control of Ukraine following the union’s dissolution.
After the seizure of the dolphins in March 2014, RIA Novosti wrote that the “dolphins are trained to patrol open water and attack or attach buoys to items of military interest, such as mines on the sea floor or combat scuba divers trained to slip past enemy security perimeters, known as frogmen.”
Russia’s interest in acquiring new dolphins demonstrates the country’s efforts to perpetuate its dolphin program.
Ukraine, for its part, has been lobbying Russia to return the dolphins it seized in Crimea, stating that the dolphins did not have a choice of whether they wanted to be part of Russia or Ukraine during the Crimean referendum.