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US aquarium loses court battle to import beluga whales

Georgia Aquarium has lost a legal battle to bring wild caught beluga whales from Russia to the United States.

The Aquarium had been trying to overturn a US federal decision which initially denied its request to import 18 whales captured in Sea of Okhotsk, Russia, on the grounds that the Aquarium had not met conditions required to approve its controversial plan.

That original refusal to allow a permit has now been upheld and delivers a significant blow to the captivity industry in the US. It also offers hope to the beluga whales in the Sea of Okhotsk as live capture for public display is one of the most serious threats facing this population.

WDC was one of several official intervening parties present at the recent court hearings in August, and assisted with briefings supporting the case to deny the Georgia Aquarium’s permit application.

SeaWorld, as part of a breeding consortium that includes Georgia Aquarium, planned to acquire the majority of these belugas. However, in an interesting twist earlier this month, SeaWorld issued a statement that it was no longer interested in taking the belugas.

Beluga whale