Two beluga whales have been moved to SeaWorld San Diego this week, despite mounting evidence that belugas fare particularly poorly in captivity. One of the whales, moved from one of the company's other parks, is already on display in a tank, while the other is expected to be displayed soon.
The two whales are named Atla, a 4-year-old female (shipped 1,275. miles from SeaWorld San Antonio), and Klondike, an 11-year-old male (from SeaWorld Orlando). SeaWorld San Diego traded the 32-year-old male whale, Nanuq, to SeaWorld Orlando for Klondike.
No word yet has been given for the swap, but it's possible that breeding plans were involved. SeaWorld has a spotted track record with beluga whales -- last year, the park was criticized when a four-year-old whale named Bella died after a brief illness (belugas live to 35 to 40 years in the wild). According to PETA, more than a dozen beluga whales have died prematurely at SeaWorld San Antonio since 1993.
Not only this, but belugas are famously sensitive to captivity -- they are used to living in exceptionally cold Arctic waters, are incredibly susceptible to loud underwater noise and, like other whales in captivity, are considered too intelligent to be kept in a tank.