Is Marineland Emptying Its Tanks? The Transfer of 5 Belugas Is a Good Sign

Published by Katherine Sullivan.

While SeaWorld is busy stooping low with out-of-touch exploits like its beluga whale sonogram stunt, Marineland Canada—another longtime PETA target—is actually taking baby steps toward progress: Last week, the marine park transferred five of the approximately 50 belugas imprisoned at its severely crowded park to an Association of Zoos & Aquariums–accredited facility in Connecticut. At their new home, these whales will stand a chance of getting the individual care that they desperately need and won’t be bred, forced to perform, or made to interact with patrons—victories that PETA and other advocacy groups helped ensure in 2019.

The video above and photos below show snippets of the whales’ journey from Ontario, Canada, to Mystic Aquarium, their new facility in southeast Connecticut. Cranes, special transport containers, and an aircraft all helped make the belugas’ trip a successful one.

All five whales are reportedly “doing really well.”

This move doesn’t signify these belugas’ liberation—because of the folks who initially confined them to tanks, they’ll never be truly free. But their transfer represents progress, and PETA hopes it’s the beginning of the end of Marineland’s exploitation and scandal.

Marineland has repeatedly proven that it’s one of the worst places on Earth for marine animals. Last Chance for Animals observed that beluga whales held there were showing signs of eye problems, including redness, irritation, and cataracts, as well as other medical issues, such as red, raw throats. Marineland staff routinely deprive animals of food for training purposes, and one beluga whale named Gia became separated from her mother by accident and was left in an isolation pool for three months, where she became so emaciated that her ribs were clearly visible. She later died from an apparent intestinal blockage. Dozens of other whales, dolphins, and walruses have died at the park—including a walrus named Apollo who suffered a heart attack. And who can forget Marineland’s apparent mass animal graves that, according to a former park employee, contained the bodies of more than 1,000 animals—orcas and other dolphins, seals, walruses, bears, bison, deer, and others.

Marineland has proved that it can do a good thing. Now, we want it to do a great thing.

PETA, Animal Welfare Institute, and other groups helped persuade the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to include clauses prohibiting breeding animals and forcing them to perform in the import permit that allowed the five belugas’ transfer to Mystic. If and when Marineland releases the other animals still imprisoned at its park, PETA urges it to send them to seaside sanctuaries—a preferable move that others have already proved is doable.

VIDEO: Belugas Return to Sea for First Time Since Capture Years Ago

Please join us in speaking out for animals like Kiska, who was abducted from her family in nature as a baby decades ago and is still kept in isolation at the Canadian park. Want to help save the whales and other animals trapped at Marineland? Show Marineland that you have no love for this tourist trap that continues to confine and exploit animals:

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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