Beluga Whale Dead on Shedd Aquarium’s Watch

Published by Zachary Toliver.

Miki, a young adult beluga whale who was forced to live nearly his entire life in captivity, mainly at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, has died.

The whale had been transported to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut after suffering from a prolonged illness. For years, he had been forced by the Shedd Aquarium to participate in the “North American beluga whale breeding consortium.”

Shedd Aquarium can save its empty words of mourning and “love.” Marine mammals—highly intelligent, sensitive, social beings—suffer greatly in captivity. If the Shedd Aquarium had truly cared about or respected this young beluga one bit, it never would have forced him into a life of captivity and deprivation. Imprisoning an endangered animal in a concrete box does nothing for belugas in the wild. At a time when SeaWorld has ended its orca-breeding program and the National Aquarium is planning to move the dolphins at its facility to a sanctuary, PETA is calling on the Shedd Aquarium to stop talking about mourning, love, and loss and actually do something—stop warehousing animals and start retiring them to coastal sanctuaries.

In nature, belugas travel long distances in close-knit family groups. When relegated to tiny tanks at aquariums and theme parks, they suffer from stress-related disorders and often die prematurely. While belugas in nature may live as long as 70 years, captive beluga whales routinely die before the age of 30.

What aquariums really teach is that it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity, frustrated, cramped, lonely, far from their natural homes, and at the mercy of humans. Marine mammal conservation is achieved through the abolition of whaling, the cleanup of our oceans, an end to driftnet fishing, and a prohibition on live captures—not through forcing whales and dolphins to live in an impoverished environment, swimming in endless circles for our entertainment.

What You Can Do

Aquariums and marine-mammal theme parks like Shedd and Mystic aquariums are part of a billion-dollar industry built on the misery of living beings who are denied everything that is natural and important to them. Don’t support or visit marine parks, aquariums, zoos, or any other enterprise that keeps animals captive.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind