It’s great that Johnson recognized the whale’s intelligence, but some of his 112 million Instagram followers were disappointed he was supporting marine mammals in captivity. Along with the beluga image, Johnson posted photos of himself with captive seals and whale sharks. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), said that criticizing Johnson may not be the right approach — instead, his fans should spread the word about animals in captivity.
“To me, whenever a big celebrity or any celebrity does this kind of thing … I don’t think it’s the right response to just attack them, and [to say], ‘I’m not going to be your fan anymore,’” Rose told The Dodo. “I think that they’re just unaware, and the whole point of my job is to educate the public.”