As their name suggests, wild animals belong in the wild. Confining these creatures to small spaces can harm them physically and even worse – mentally. These two Beluga Whales were rescued after more than a decade, from a Chinese aquarium where they performed tricks in exchange for fish.
The two whales barely lived in the wild. After being captured at only a couple of years old, the two were held captive in a Russian research station. They were then transferred to the Ocean World in Shanghai, China, where they got their (not-so-original) names – Little White and Little Grey. After spending more than a decade at the Chinese aquarium, the two Beluga Whales were finally being rescued by a UK-based group called Sea Life Trust.
The two 2,000 lbs (900kg), 13 ft (4m) whales, were transferred more than 6,000 miles to Klettsvik Bay, an open-water ocean refuge in Iceland. The sanctuary will allow Little White and Little Grey to swim with other Belugas for the first time in years.
Andy Bool, Sea Life Trust’s CEO said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be able to share the news that Little Grey and Little White are safely in their sea sanctuary care pools and are just one step away from being released into their open water home. Following extensive planning and rehearsals, the first stage of their release back to the ocean was as smooth as we had hoped and planned for.”
Getting them halfway around the world was certainly no easy task. The two female whales were placed in specially built slings that were designed to protect their bodies. They were placed in a truck, transferred to a Boeing 747-400ERF cargo aircraft, and a tugboat when they finally made it to Iceland.
In an official statement, Sea Life Trust’s spokesperson said: “Little Grey and Little White are now in their bayside care pool and will need a short period of time to acclimatise to their new natural environment and all the outdoor elements before their final release into the wider sanctuary in Klettsvik Bay in the Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland. The expert team and the independent vets were with Little Grey and Little White throughout the move and said they are healthy and are feeding after the short trip from their landside care facility back to the sea.”
The look on their face really says it all. It’s heartwarming to see more and more wild creatures returning to their natural habitats after years in captivity.
Don’t miss the video of the two reacclimatizing to the wild in the sanctuary here:
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