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The exploitation of marine animals in aquariums is being brought to light more and more often – but we are still far from a reality where no whales and dolphins have to suffer for people’s questionable entertainment and profit. In August 2017, Gia, a young beluga born into captivity in Marineland in Southern Ontario, Canada, died of an undetected intestinal blockage under the care of the amusement park.
The death of the beluga reignited the conversation about why Marineland still keeps live animals at their park and if they should be allowed to do so. Marineland claimed to have done their best to take good care of the animal – but even the “best” attempt at doing so in a place like a marine theme park is practically always not enough.
Marine animals are not meant to live in captivity and they do not have the mental tools to deal with living in small enclosures. For these creatures, living in captivity is filled with incredible stress and anxiety, distress, and boredom – just the way it would be for a human being. Closed off in enclosures that are too small, marine mammals quickly grow to manifest signs of zoochosis, suffer from untypical for the species in their natural habitat diseases, become aggressive, and even resort to self-mutilation out of emotional distress.
Gia was never able to swim in her natural environment, nor was she ever meant to do so. But her death is not unprecedented – Marineland has a history of animal cruelty charges and is regularly under investigations for complaints.
The theme park is full of amusement rides and the kinds of attractions that do not involve the suffering of live animals – there is no reason why it should also prosper off keeping living beings on its site as an entertainment the price for which is the animals’ well-being. A strong local opposition has already formed to Marineland’s animal captivity – hopefully, it can be strengthened by even more voices from all around the world and make Gia the last animal to die in captivity at the premises.
Click here to sign a petition for Marineland to stop using live animals as entertainment in its amusement park!
Image source: Kristina Williams/Pexels