Please see this revealing report on the accuracy of the Georgia Aquarium's public statements. It is en eye-opener and, as someone who has studied marine mammals for over twenty years, I concur with the statements in this piece.
The GA Aquarium wants the public to think that the causes of infant mortality in the wild and in captivity are the same. They imply that this infant did not survive because of the mother’s inexperience. This is not true! The fact is that first-born infants die in the wild because they are contaminated by pollutants that have built up in the mother’s body and released when they nurse. This would have no relevance in captivity. So the GA Aquarium’s claim that infant mortality is high in the wild is misleading and simply a way for them to exonerate themselves and justify the artificial conditions of captivity that have more likely contributed to this infant’s death than anything else.
Although beluga infants do have a high mortality rate in the wild, to subject Maris to such a heartbreak is cruel and unjustifiable by any standard. The Georgia Aquarium knew the chances of this baby surviving were small and yet they continue their program of breeding so that they can sell more tickets. Shame on them!
Lori Marino, PhD, marine mammal expert, Emory University
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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