Georgia Aquarium: Phase Out Your Beluga Whale Exhibit

On Mother's Day, the Georgia Aquarium celebrated the birth of a baby beluga, but after less than a month, the newborn whale has already passed away.

Sadly, this isn't the first death at the aquarium - it's even the second loss for Maris, whose first calf died just days after it was born.

Unfortunately, with a low success rate for breeding and a captive population that won't sustain itself without new babies, aquariums are going to have to capture wild animals to keep their exhibits open. That's just what the Georgia Aquarium is doing.

In 2012, it applied for a permit to bring 18 wild-caught beluga whales here from Russia. While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration denied the permit for a number of reasons, as of this March the Georgia Aquarium is still fighting the decision in court and trying to get a federal judge to order the agency to overturn the decision and grant the permit.

Ordering captured whales is clearly not in the best interest of suffering wild populations, or in that of the whales who continue to be confined in tanks.

With only three belugas in its care, the Georgia Aquarium should join other facilities that have stopped keeping whales and dolphins in captivity, and phase out its beluga exhibit!

As someone who is concerned with animal welfare and opposed to keeping cetaceans in captivity, I am writing to express my disappointment over your continued attempt to remove belugas from the wild for public display.

It is already clear to scientists that belugas do poorly in captivity and have a low breeding success rate. Yet your continued attempts to breed more for public display have resulted in yet another calf dying in your care.

Even more offensive is your continued attempt to remove wild-caught belugas from Russia for breeding and display, despite the harm it will cause those individuals and the wild population.

I sincerely hope that instead of trying to perpetuate keeping belugas in captivity, you will instead phase out your exhibit. The only conservation efforts these animals need now are ones that will protect them and their rightful place in the wild where they belong.

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