The first retirement home for captive beluga whales has been announced.
The news comes after the UK-based company Merlin Entertainments said that it ‘does not want to keep beluga whales in its marine parks because they suffer in captivity.’ It plans to move two of its performing marine mammals to a more natural home.
The 12-year-old beluga whales – named Little Grey and Little White – lived in the wild before they were captured aged two and made to perform at a marine park in Shanghai, China. It is thought that belugas suffer in captive environments, and Merlin Entertainments has been urged to re-home them in a more natural environment since the company bought the park back in 2012.
The whales cannot be freed as they can no longer fend for themselves, so will be relocated 6,000 miles away to a bay on the island of Heimaey in Iceland.
There is hope that the belugas from the park will live the rest of their lives in this bay.
The animals are being taught skills that will help them survive in their new home before their journey to Iceland in the spring of next year, which will involve travel by air, land and sea.
However, shows in Shanghai are continuing. There are some concerns from the likes of Freedom For Animals about the sanctuary turning into another attraction, as boats travel past the bay.
Scientists plan to study how these belugas will settle into their new habitat in the hope that one day others might join them in this new location.
You can watch the video report here.