Animal rights group suing to prevent Mystic Aquarium importing beluga whales

Mystic Aquarium

Friends of Animals, an animal rights group, is suing the US government in order to prevent Mystic Aquarium’s attempts to get five new beluga whales from Marineland, a facility in Canada.

Friends of Animals filed its lawsuit on Thursday (September 3) against US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the National Marine Fisheries Service in U.S. District Court to stop a permit for the Mystic Aquarium (via Reuters).

Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut already has three beluga whales, who are housed in the largest outdoor beluga whale habitat in the US, at 750,000 gallons.

The lawsuit was filed against the National Marine Fisheries Service for approving a research permit that would allow Mystic Aquarium to import five more beluga whales (via FoA).

Mystic Aquarium already has three belugas

“Beluga whales do not belong in captivity,” the lawsuit says. “They are highly social and intelligent animals who roam large distances in the wild. Captivity robs them of their most basic needs.”

The proposed, five-year permit is cited in the lawsuit and says the aquarium wants the belugas for non-invasive research. The aquarium is not allowed to display the whales, use them for entertainment, or breed them.

On the website, Mystic Aquarium says the study of belugas in zoological parks and aquariums “has increased our understanding of factors threatening the sustainability of the species in the native environment”.

Mystic Aquarium also says it is a “leader in beluga research, care and behaviors”, and that the study of beluga whales allows for “steps to conserve and protect these animals”.

“Beluga whales do not belong in captivity”

TripAdvisor previously announced that it will no longer sell tickets to attractions or experiences where cetaceans are captive and put on public display.

The company’s decision came after similar moves from QantasBritish Airways Holidays and Virgin Holidays.

Meanwhile, the SEA LIFE Trust has confirmed the safe arrival of two beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White, in their new sea sanctuary care area at Klettsvik Bay in Iceland.