Our campaign to free the three beluga whales in Shanghai has an end in sight. The whales will finally be going to the long-promised sanctuary, which is located in Iceland, in Spring 2019.

At Freedom for Animals we have been calling for Sea Life, owned by attraction company 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.

With your help we collected over 11,000 petition signatures, hosted demonstrations outside of Sea Life centres all over the UK and Ireland, distributed thousands of leaflets and raised awareness. Celebrities lent their voice to the campaign like many around the world who are outraged that whales are forced to perform in captivity.

Your campaign efforts clearly made an impact when Merlin started to release updates on the progress of the sanctuary, although sadly always filled with excuses and delays. But now, four years later, it looks like it is actually happening.

We are delighted by this news and wish to thank you and the rest of our dedicated supporters for backing the SEA LIES campaign, applying pressure on Sea Life and Merlin to do the right thing.

Whale shows continue

But the whales are not safe from exploitation yet.

As of today, the centre in Shanghai still promotes the beluga shows. We are utterly disappointed that the shows look set to continue, making the whales perform to entertain crowds. Our undercover footage has previously 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.

How can a company who claim to care about whale welfare continue to exploit them?

The press promotion put out by the Sea Life Trust, partnered with Merlin and Sea Life, over the last few days about the sanctuary fails to mention that Merlin has STILL not ended the whale shows.

Contact Merlin today and demand they end the whale shows now! Email Merlin

Jun Jun the beluga whale

Sadly this sanctuary has come too late for one of the whales. Jun Jun, who had been at the park for over 10 years, died in 2017. Her death makes it even more tragic that Merlin has taken so long to make this project happen. Being one of the largest companies in the world, with huge profits and resources, surely they could have made this sanctuary happen far sooner?

The Sea Life Trust

The sanctuary has been set up under the name of the Sea Life Trust.  In our campaign we called for the sanctuary to be ran by a recognised animal welfare organisation, to ensure the animals were given full protection from exploitation. Sadly the Sea Life Trust is strongly linked to the aquarium industry through their connections with Merlin and Sea Life aquariums. In fact, many of the trustees of the Sea Life Trust are working or have worked for Merlin. We stand by our calls for the sanctuary to be ran completely independently, to ensure the animals get the best care.

We also had concerns when press reported that the sanctuary may include other animals on display. This is true of another Sea Life sanctuary now ran by the Sea Life Trust, which has captive wild animals on display who have not been rescued. A true sanctuary should be for those in need and should not confine animals to captivity merely for visitor entertainment.

The future

As an organisation fighting for the rights of all animals, we celebrate this news with mixed feelings. It is a major achievement to see these whales retired to a sanctuary, but we remain critical of the company behind it all, Merlin, which exploits animals in theme parks and aquariums around the world.

For now, we look on with hope as the sanctuary becomes a reality. Hope that this sanctuary will be a true place of safety for the remaining two whales, Little Grey and Little White. Hope that they will no longer be exploited for noisy crowds. Hope that they will be given peace.

With this vision in sight for the whales, we should celebrate! All the hard work that you have put in to make a life free from exploitation a reality for Little White and Little Grey. Whether you have signed a petition, held a protest or been more involved in the campaign for freedom, it has all had an impact.

These whales may be two individuals but they represent so much more: the world no longer accepts whale exploitation and corporations are being forced to act. At Freedom for Animals, we campaign for all animals, the fish, crabs, turtles, octopus and others, in Sea Life centres around the world. With your support, we will carry on until all are free.

Please take action today to ask Merlin to end the shows! Take Action