Return our dolphins, Russian owners tell Egypt aquarium

February 16th, 2009 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Feb 16 (RIA Novosti) Russian owners of three dolphins have appealed to the Egyptian Justice Ministry seeking the return of the marine mammals, which they say are being kept in Egypt illegally, a Russian daily said Monday.

Vremya Novostei said the contract for shows involving the three Black Sea dolphins - Stesha, Masha and Styopa - at an aquatic centre in Sharm-el-Sheikh expired last March. However, the Egyptians are still refusing to let the animals go.

The Russian owners have also lodged a complaint with the upper house of Russia’s parliament.

“The dolphins belong to Russia. They are our valuable property,” said Igor Kostov, director of the St. Petersburg dolphinarium.

The affair involves three parties: the Russian dolphinarium, an Egyptian manager, and the Polish company that owns the Egyptian aquarium, which signed the contract with the Russian dolphin owners.

A year ago, the Egyptian partner proposed extending the contract for the dolphins directly with the Russians, bypassing the Polish party, and later submitted to an Egyptian court a copy of a document confirming his sole ownership of the facility.

The Polish intermediaries lost the court case Jan 25, and have failed to get support from the Polish authorities, who said the affair was the company’s private business.

The sea life centre and the dolphins themselves are currently protected by armed guards.

Lawyers for the Russian dolphin owners said they could file a suit against the Egyptian partners as soon as the dolphins were brought back to Russia.

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