Baby beluga at Georgia Aquarium dies – despite Maris’ having “stood up to her end of the bargain”

I am almost speechless. So I’ll be brief.

Beluga Whale Maris and Baby at the Georgia Aquarium

Maris and “her end of the bargain” at the Georgia Aquarium, unattributed photo from Georgia Aquarium facebook page

Georgia Aquarium’s official statement, as quoted in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, notes that the baby beluga whale, born on May 18, 2012, in the Georgia Aquarium, died today, despite Maris having “stood up to her end of the bargain.”

What bargain was that, Georgia Aquarium?

I’m just curious as hell. What was Maris’ bargain with you?

I have to say it again: Billy Hurley, Chief Zoological Officer at the Georgia Aquarium, said today, when interviewed about the death at the Georgia Aquarium of the baby beluga whale, “Maris stood up to her end of the bargain…”

The crassness of that statement – while not truly surprising, since Mr. Hurley doesn’t know the difference between dolphins, on the one hand, and dogs or horses, on the other – crossed the line.

What line is that?

It’s the line that reveals that the people who are entrusted with the care of these highly intelligent and sentient beings are incapable of appreciating this intelligence and sentience. It’s the line that reveals that the Georgia Aquarium views its dolphins, beluga whales and whale sharks as merely assets to grow a bottom line. It’s the line that reveals the aquariums’ willingness to tell only part of the story to preserve that “asset”. It’s the line that reveals the call for an immediate rehabilitation and release of these creatures to their god-given life in the wild.

If you had any doubt about these issues before, I trust that Mr. Hurley’s revealing comment got through to you and that you will sign a petition, sponsored by the Born Free Foundation, to end captivity for whales and dolphins.

So, to Mr. Hurley. Back to that bargain that you struck with Maris, what did you promise in return? Another chance to reproduce a baby that would either live its life in captivity, or die as your organization predicted it would? More captivity? Or did you promise something more lofty, like, you would continue to feed her in a small tank of salitified chlorinated artificially-cooled water?

That must be comforting to Maris, in this time of a mother’s grief.

I know, you and I are on the other side of that line, so I could stop there. But then Mr. Hurley said, after complimenting Maris on holding up her end of the bargain, “We will not give up.” Another question, Mr. Hurley. Not give up on what? Having Maris impregnated again, when you know the odds are against the baby’s, or babies’, survival?

Just sign the Born Free Foundation petition to end whale and dolphin captivity. You know he’s wrong.

13 responses to “Baby beluga at Georgia Aquarium dies – despite Maris’ having “stood up to her end of the bargain”

  1. I wonder, does anyone know? Did Maris even get to nurse her baby even once? Did they even let her try? Did she ever get to bond with her baby? Did the baby ever have the chance to bond with Maris? Wouldn’t that have been more helpful than shoving a tube of artificial nutrients down the baby’s throat? So may questions. Does anyone know the answers? Doubtful! Certainly not the GA Aquarium and I wouldn’t believe a word they said anyway!

  2. I know, meaning, I don’t know. I called the PR department at the Georgia Aquarium today before I had heard that the baby died, to see if I could get an update. They didn’t return my call. But if they do, I’ll see if I can learn anything about the baby’s having had any nursing experience with Maris.

    The horror of captivity is really in the illusion that all is well. As long as the Aquariums manage to convince people of that . . . Our job is to show the truth. To burst the illusion.

  3. I’m shocked and disgraced. Dolphins and whales belong in the wild, end of. I’m so outraged. Thanks for this awesome blog!

  4. You are most welcome. The atrocity is so obvious to us, and it will soon be to all. Whale and dolphin captivity will end, will cease to be here for our amusement or curiosity.

  5. You are so right that it is so jaw-dropping wrong .. but this incident simply goes in their accountants incidental expenses column. The world, however, is less myopic and will clearly see this red ink event in the morally bankrupt column ..thanks to blogs like your’s. These lives are special in their own right ..what a pompous absurdity to think they owe an investor. There’s only one sin worse than wasting your life .. that’s wasting anothers. They are not for others to take.

  6. Absolutely. Minnesota ended its dolphin exhibit, the National Aq ended the dolphin show (but retained an exhibit). I’d say this establishes a trend.

    BTW, I like that: “jaw-dropping wrong.” I may have to steal it, but if you see it, feel free to point out that I stole it from you. I’ll try to remember, but with me . . .

  7. The GA Aquarium wants the public to think that the causes of infant mortality in the wild and in captivity are the same. They imply that this infant did not survive because of the mother’s inexperience. This is not true! The fact is that first-born infants die in the wild because they are contaminated by pollutants that have built up in the mother’s body and released when they nurse. This would have no relevance in captivity. So the GA Aquarium’s claim that infant mortality is high in the wild in misleading at best and simply a way for them to exonerate themselves and justify the artificial conditions of captivity that have more likely contributed to this infant’s death than anything else.

    • Thank you for comment, Dr. Marino. Feel free to post a link to your conclusions on captivity. I would attach something now, but can’t from my phone.

      Anyone reading my blog should appreciate the distinction between my lay opinion and your expert opinion, so please feel free to use this platform to do that.

  8. Pingback: Baby beluga at Georgia Aquarium dies – despite Maris’ having “stood up to her end of the bargain” | Cove Blue for Jiyu |

  9. If I was a beluga whale or one of eleven dolphins currently held in the concrete prison, AKA the Georgia Aquarium, I would say “Thank You!” for you informed outsiders who express an interest in us. Thank you for naming and calling out individuals and corporations (yes, even the “non-profit” ones) for holding us captive, for being a sponsor of our unnatural exhibits, forcing us to eat frozen and drug-laced food, for pointing out that most of us have lost the ability to use echolocation to find our way around and communicate in this confined space, many of us have lost dorsal fin strength, have un-reported infant mortality, and are forced to mate with “strangers” from other oceans that we would not be greeting in nature. We are not domestic pets, lovely as they are, and it is insulting to be compared to them and confused with them. We are not personal property. We are slaves, held captive for profit by humans. Again, thank you for educating other humans so perhaps this will not continue in your advanced ? civilization.

    • Yes, it is imperative that more “average people” learn the truth about captivity as you have summarized. One person at a time, gets their sphere, gets their spheres. Soon, soon, captivity of these marvelous creatures will be ended.

      Thank you for sharing!

  10. Pingback: US marine parks trying to import wild beluga whales into life-long captivity - Military News | Military News

  11. no wild animal should be kept in a “cell”! how sad that man is so pompous to do so. The animals on verge of extinction should be allowed to do so if they can not overcome our pollution. do not put them in jail.Man is responsible for taking care of animals but not keep them penned up or overbreeding to increase the bottom line for a greedy capitalist. God will punish them, I am sure.

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