Yesterday’s Mail Online featured a series of, unfortunately, fairly stunning underwater photos from an aquarium in China of a beluga whale show involving circus style acrobatics between captive belugas and animal trainers. Such images published in such a widely read national newspaper only serve to encourage visitation to facilities around the world holding captive whales and dolphins, of which there are thought to be at least 50 in China alone. Meanwhile, they hide the truth behind the capture, international trade and confinement in unnatural conditions that present a significant health and welfare risk to the individuals used in these shows.
Since 1990, well over 300 belugas have been captured from the wild in Russian waters and exported overseas for the international aquarium industry. Once captured, they may be kept for years in holding tanks awaiting export overseas and experience mortality rates above their wild counterparts, despite the threats faced by belugas in the wild. Belugas are an Arctic species adapted to living in frigid waters at the point of freezing and yet individuals are held all over the world in facilities incapable of keeping them at an appropriate temperature. WDC is working hard to influence potential importers not to display belugas in captivity, including the United States. We are also calling on President Putin to end beluga and orca captures in Russia.
We are heartened to read so many comments of opposition posted beneath the Mail’s article, but call on the newspaper to end its support of whale and dolphin captivity, for all the welfare and conservation risks it brings.