WDC can reveal that it is in advanced discussions with Merlin Entertainments regarding the future of the three belugas (also known as beluga whales) held at the Merlin facility in Shanghai, China.
Despite recent publicity, sensitive discussion and planning regarding the future of these belugas has been on-going between WDC and Merlin for many months. The ideal scenario for WDC would involve their release back into the wild or, at the very least, placement in a sea sanctuary where the belugas can live out the rest of their lives in a more natural environment.
WDC is committed to securing the best possible outcome for these belugas and it is their long-term welfare that is paramount
This is not a simple issue to solve and is one that cannot be rushed without placing the welfare of the belugas in jeopardy. As previously stated, the removal of these belugas from their current location, and possible placement back into the wild is a hugely complex logistical operation.
Firstly, the three belugas cannot simply be airlifted out of Shanghai and dropped into an ocean.
Any whale or dolphin held for a length of time in captivity has to be assessed by an expert team to ascertain how suitable they are for transportation and release back into the wild. Assessments also need to be made on suitable locations for release, in areas where the whale or dolphin in question would naturally be found and preferably in an area with minimal threat to their continued survival and where there is a possibility that they could re-join a suitable natural population.
A team of appropriate experts needs to be brought together to handle such a transfer and other logistics need to be worked out in detail, in relation to transportation, official approval from the local, national and international authorities concerned, and securing the many hundreds of thousands of pounds of funds needed to finance this complicated process.
WDC would like to reiterate the sensitive and complex nature of discussions that are on-going and which will involve all the parties mentioned above. We are at a critical phase in these discussions and will issue further information as soon as it is feasible to do so. Your co-operation and understanding is appreciated at this time.