Two beluga whales, Little White and Little Grey, have been forced to perform tricks for crowds for the very last time. These two whales, and a deceased whale named Jun Jun, have been at the centre of a years-long campaign to end whale shows at the SEA LIFE owned aquarium in Shanghai, China.

In a historic victory for the campaign, the shows have now ended and the whales are due to be moved to the world’s first beluga sanctuary in April 2019.

Freedom for Animals have been calling for SEA LIFE, a UK based company owned by Merlin Entertainments, to retire these whales since 2014 after we revealed that they were making the whales perform circus-style shows for crowds at their centre. We launched our SEA LIES campaign, highlighting how the company had tried to distance themselves from these cruel shows and hide behind claims of being against cetacean captivity.

Our undercover footage had shown the whales being made to ‘dance’ in circles in the water, jump for food, ‘sing’ along to a xylophone and push grown men through the water who were stood on their faces.

After intense public pressure on the company to retire the whales, including from veterinary, animal behaviour and marine mammal experts, in July 2018 SEA LIFE announced they were building the world’s first beluga whale sanctuary in Iceland for the whales. Sadly, this was too late for one of the whales, Jun Jun, who died in 2017 after more than 10 years at the centre.

Campaigns Director, Nicola O’Brien stated,

“The news that these whales had been made to perform for the last time, was a really powerful moment for me. Finally these cruel and degrading shows are over, something we have fought for for many years, alongside thousands of people across the globe.

This truly is a historic victory for animals and animal rights globally. To see a huge multinational give into public pressure against exploiting whales in this manner, and provide sanctuary for these animals is no small event; it is yet another sign of the turning tide against the exploitation of animals for entertainment.

These whales will finally be free from a life of misery, doing tricks for crowds and living in barren tanks. Those days are now behind them and a much more positive future awaits, in the sea where they belong.”