After four beluga whale deaths in one year, the Georgia Aquarium
LETTER TO GEORGIA AQUARIUM CEO JEFF FLANAGAN
December 10, 2007
Jeff Flanagan, CEO
Dear Mr. Flanagan,
The Georgia Aquarium's recent spate of tragic whale deaths once again illustrates a "FAILED SUCCESS STORY" that is the ongoing captivity of whales, the display of whales in confined spaces, where a number of ailments and compromises will prematurely take the marine mammal's life. Whales do NOT belong in tanks for human amusement; there is nothing educational about placing the whale in an unnatural setting for well-paying customers and touting "This is education! This is conservation!"
Let's be real, Mr. Flanagan. "This is about money! This is about bringing in paying customers!" is what you as GA Aquarium's CEO should ADMIT to being committed to. Belugas can live to be 60+ years of age in the wild. In captivity, they rarely reach adulthood. Oops, I recall being told that belugas only live to be about 20 during the aquarium beluga shows. Hmm, now where's the education? When one dies, in order to satisfy public demand, it will be time to "harvest" another, from the wild, as calf mortality is high in captivity. Where's the conservation? The depletion of wild stocks of whales is directly (and increasingly) impacted by the captivity/display/swim with industry.
What's more, and even more tragic is that beluga whales, "the canaries of the sea", known in the wild for their intense and prolific vocalizations, are SILENT in these tanks. The stress that takes the song away from these whales must be potent, stifling and depressing to these whales. After all, how would you feel if your natural abilities to swim for 200 miles each day, deep diving while singing with the beluga family were replaced by receiving handouts from humans while you monotonously, endlessly, SILENTLY circle a chemically-enriched artificial "sea"-tank no doubt wondering if you'll ever get out of there alive?
If this aquarium really cared about whales, there would be no whales in its chlorinated, chemically-treated water tanks. Mr. Flanagan, it's time to do the right thing, and no longer display cetaceans in captivity.
Taffy Williams, Director, New York Whale and Dolphin Action League
The New York Whale and Dolphin Action League
PO Box 273, Tuckahoe, NY 10707 USA
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