Whale dies at aquarium: Female beluga whale dies at Georgia Aquarium

A beluga whale at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta has died, the aquarium said.

 

The whale, named Maris, was 21-years-old and had given birth to two calves who both died. An aquarium spokesperson said no one from the facility would be answering any questions. In fact, several security guards stood around the outside of the aquarium Friday to try and keep media away. However, the aquarium posted a statement on its website:

“Veterinary and animal care experts perform routine exams on all of our animals and at Maris’ most recent exam, she showed all signs of a health beluga whale.  She has been eating normally and engaging in enrichment and interaction with our two other beluga whales.”

“Maris was one of the first beluga whales at Georgia Aquarium and inspired millions of guests each year,” Mike Leven, the aquarium’s executive director and CEO, said in a statement.

“The bonds that were created over the last ten years between Maris and her animal care and veterinary teams were truly special. This unexpected loss is difficult,” Leven said.

This latest death is drawing plenty of criticism from animal rights advocates.

“Captivity is a morbid business. Dolphins and whales do not fare well in captivity. They don’t live as long in captivity,” said Martha Brock from Georgia Animal Rights and Protection, a group that believes the beluga whale program should be eliminated. Brock says this death is a reminder of how it puts ocean mammals at risk for human entertainment.

Whale dies at aquarium

Whale dies at aquarium

“Maris was a young beluga whale who born in captivity and exploited her entire life,” said Brock.

Beluga whales have a lifespan of between 35 to 50 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

FILE - In this April 11, 2012, file photo, Georgia Aquarium's resident beluga whale Maris swims in the aquarium's tank in Atlanta. Aquarium chief veterinary officer Dr. Gregory Bossart said the female whale Maris died suddenly Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

FILE – In this April 11, 2012, file photo, Georgia Aquarium’s resident beluga whale Maris swims in the aquarium’s tank in Atlanta. Aquarium chief veterinary officer Dr. Gregory Bossart said the female whale Maris died suddenly Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)