Whales are some of the most fascinating animals on the planet. Over the years, we’ve gained an enormous amount of knowledge about the secretive lives of these marine-dwelling animals and the more we learn, the more apparent their similarities to humans become. These animals live in tight-knit pods and care for their friends and family just as we do. They feel love and mourn their loses with as much emotional intensity, if not more, than humans. Whales are also amazingly intelligent. Their brains are significantly larger than our own and have been developing for millions of years, humans only entered the scene a few hundred thousand ago. Orca whales are the only animals, after humans, known to evolve in tune with their distinct culture, and Beluga whales have even learned how to mimic and replicate human language with their vocalizations.

We have reached a point where we cannot deny the dynamic abilities of these animals, yet we continue to belittle their extraordinary traits by pulling from the wild and putting them on display in aquariums and marine parks.

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When taken from their natural home and placed in a tank the size of a fishbowl, in comparison to the ocean, whales suffer from immense mental and physical distress. Although the tides are slowing shifting against the belief that marine captivity is beneficial or benign, we still have a long way to go until all of the tanks are emptied for good.

But we can’t forget that while we work to change the hearts and minds of people who profit from keeping whales captive, this is the sort of life the animals are sentenced to live:

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This is Gia, a young beluga whale who is currently living at Marineland Canada. Her distress and sadness is palpable in this image, demonstrating what relly goes on behind the glass at marine attractions. Poor Gia was separated from her mother “by accident” and left in an isolated tank for three months, during which time she became extremely emaciated. Sadly, the treatment of Gia is hardly the only incident of wrong doing at this facility.

Last Chance for Animals carried out an investigation at Marineland Canada and found that the belugas were living in horrific conditions. Of the 46 belugas living in small concrete enclosures, numerous were witnessed suffering from medical conditions, such as “hypersalivation, regurgitation, and raw, red throats, in some cases for prolonged periods of time.” In addition to this, baby belugas were covered with rake marks from aggressive encounters with other whales, animals were starved for training, and the list only goes on.

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Seeing the impact that our own desire for “entertainment” has had on Gia and the many other belugas at Marineland further proves that there is little fun in this experience for marine animals. We owe these brilliant creatures so much more than to isolate them in tanks and strip away everything that makes them whales to begin with.

If you think all marine animals deserve to live wild and free, always boycott any facility that profits from the exploitation of animals and encourage others to do the same. Share this post and help spread awareness for the suffering inherent in marine captivity. No animal should have to suffer like Gia has, it is time to #EmptyTheTanks.

Image source: Last Chance for Animals