‘Liked it very much’ Dolphin show brings joy to Ukrainian children fleeing bombarded city

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The Ukrainian port city of Kherson, now occupied by Russian troops, has been heavily bombarded since the invasion began. Last month Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk drew attention to the strategically important city, stating that it faced a “humanitarian catastrophe” as food and supplies were running out. But those that made out of the city were given a moment of levity after their horrific struggle – watching a dolphin show in the nearby city of Odesa.

Several dozen Ukrainians, many of them children, were able to temporarily forget the raging war and enjoy the marine spectacle.

Held at the Nemo Hotel in Odesa, a port city on the Black Sea, the show included dolphins leaping from the water, playing with balls and swimming.

Irinia Borisevich, 35, who fled Kherson with her two children aged five and three, said: “I liked everything very much.

“We have been dreaming about getting to a dolphin show for a long time. Such great emotions.”

She added, however: “it is a pity that this is happening under such circumstances.”

Ms Borisevich, whose husband is a sailor who has been away for three months, took 12 hours to drive from Kherson to Odesa. The journey normally takes only three, but was made far longer by roadblocks and Russian checkpoints.

She said: “It was scary to drive through Russian checkpoints because they were looking at documents, checking phones, things. They could take away anything they wanted from someone.”

Her five year old son Ivan, however, was able to lose himself in the spectacle of the show.

He said: “I liked how they jumped and touched the balls.”

The show last Saturday was free for anyone from Kherson, as was their accommodation.

Vyacheslav Lutushko, the service manager of the hotel, said: “The dolphins are very positive, they don’t care about war.”

Many Kherson refugees were staying for a few nights in Odesa before they moved on to find a safer place to wait out the war.

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Odesa also remains under threat of Russian attack.

The dolphinarium which hosted the magical show is just three miles from an oil refinery which was bombed by Russian forces on April 3.

Since it was occupied by Russian forces on March 3, Ukrainian officials have repeatedly warned that Kherson is under risk of running out of food and medical supplies.

Its mayor, Igor Kolykhaev, has said that there are no official green corridors for those who need to evacuate.

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