According to a news story, “The Georgia Aquarium has applied for a permit to bring 18 beluga whales into the country, to be housed in aquariums and zoological parks at locations around the country.”
In the wild, whales live in tightly knit social units called pods. Some of these pods stay together for life. Yet, when they are captured, they are torn from their family units. They are either chased to the point of exhaustion or herded into a cove where they are trapped. Only the young and healthy are taken for exhibition, yet many of them do not survive the transition from ocean to tank. During these violent chases, the ecosystem from which they are taken is also disrupted. Beluga whales live to be around 50 years old—in the ocean. Life in a fish bowl is rarely that long.
As with zoos, aquariums try to defend their existence by stating they promote educational and conservational agendas when in fact they are nothing more than profit-based enterprises. What they are teaching the public is that capturing, confining, and exploiting marine mammals for our entertainment is acceptable.
Please write a polite letter to the head of the Georgia Aquarium requesting he withdraw the application. Suggest his organization, along with other organizations operating captive breeding programs, demonstrate that they can improve the gene pool, as is their stated goal, and that they can release young adult belugas into the wild to successfully breed with their pod-mates. Once there have been successful releases, then the conservation aspect of their program will have merit.
President and Chief Operating Officer
225 Baker Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30313
Tele. No.: 404-581-4000