In other words, what many have chosen to see as an example of how captivity allows for a feeling of connectedness with whales, orcas and dolphins, is actually an indication of their suffering.
And it should hardly come as a surprise. Since the practice of keeping cetaceans in marine parks and aquariums began more than 50 years ago, science has come to understand that they are among the most intelligent animals on earth, not so far removed from humans. There has been a growing sentiment, in the wake of films like "Blackfish" and "The Cove", that society's treatment and confinement of cetaceans amounts to cruelty, and that they should be regarded not as animals, but rather as non-human persons, beings deserving of the most basic rights of freedom.
Still, that hasn't stopped aquariums and marine parks from trying to add more belugas to their exhibits, even if that means taking them from their natural habitat. It was recently revealed that the Georgia Aquarium has been quietly trying to import 18 beluga whales into the U.S. that were taken from the wild off the coast of Russia.