Animal rights group sues to stop US aquarium from getting more belugas

Beluga whale stuck in an aquarium, photo: Insung yoon on Unsplash
Beluga whale stuck in an aquarium, photo: Insung yoon on Unsplash

Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut wants to get five new beluga whales. Animals rights group Friends of Animals is trying to stop this from happening because the move would harm the animals. They will not only be separated from their friends, but the move itself from Canada is also painful for the animals.

The group filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service in the United States for approving a research permit that would allow Mystic Aquarium to import five more beluga whales from Marineland, a facility in Canada.

According to Friends of Animals, the approved permit violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the National Environmental Protection Act.

The aquarium already has three belugas. “You would think after all these years of already doing research on their belugas — Kela, 29, Natasha, 29, and Juno, 18 — scientists at Mystic would understand what belugas need to thrive—lots of open ocean space and socialization, which they are robbed of in captivity,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals in a statement on their website.

“Beluga whales are extremely social—their pods range from a few fellow belugas to hundreds of individuals. They’re known to dive to 1,000-meter depths for periods of up to 25 minutes. Something they can’t do in shallow aquarium tanks,” she continued.

Moving these belugas tears them away from deep familial and social relationships that they have formed with other belugas at Marineland, and the long and foreign voyage on trucks and airplanes emotionally and psychologically scars them, Friends of Animals said.

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