Sick seals left to die in dirty water. Whales confined to tiny tanks. Freezers full of animal carcasses.

Ocean theme parks are booming in China, but what happens to their prized marine performers behind the scenes?

In this exclusive Al Jazeera report, 101 East infiltrates China’s multi-billion-dollar aquarium industry and exposes the dark side they don’t want you to see.

As part of a two-year undercover investigation, 101 East examined more than 15 marine parks and interviewed more than a dozen insiders.

The result is a shocking picture of animal abuse and cruelty.

At one Chinese marine park, our undercover investigator finds a freezer full of dolphin carcasses.

The park’s vet reveals how they died.

“Three of those were the lead performing dolphins,” he tells 101 East. “They died from something that has to do with over-exertion. Their intestines were twisted… caused by some of the moves.”

Unaware he was being recorded, the vet warns against talking publicly about the dead animals.

“These deaths we can only talk about amongst ourselves. If people outside the company heard this, they will again say we abuse animals. It can get troublesome,” he says.

With China home to more than 60 marine parks and at least a dozen more being built, demand for animals has never been greater.

But with profit and entertainment taking priority, activists warn that the animals are paying the ultimate price.

101 East investigates the devastating impact China’s aquarium boom is having on the world’s most majestic sea creatures.

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