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Beluga Whale Acquisition 

July 1, 2012 

Georgia Aquarium Leads Conservation Efforts for Beluga Whales

Georgia Aquarium is taking a leadership role in the zoological community to conserve and protect beluga whales everywhere. The beluga whale is listed on the IUCN as a “near-threatened” species. Through the study and observation of belugas in human care, we continue to gain a better understanding of their biology, physiology and diseases that affect them, all with the goal of learning how we can help those populations in their natural habitats. Georgia Aquarium is proud to take a bold step to ensure the care and understanding of belugas in human care and in the wild. We recognize the immense knowledge and education that the study of these animals can provide, and we aim to inspire the public to conserve and protect the species.


Chief Zoological Officer & Senior Vice President William Hurley discusses Georgia Aquarium's beluga whale conservation project.

As part of an initiative to maintain a sustainable population of belugas in human care, Georgia Aquarium supported an important research project to learn more about a population of animals from which whales have been collected by Russian scientists in the Sea of Okhotsk in northern Russia. This extensive body of research has been reviewed by our peers and validated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, also known as IUCN. In full accordance with the Animal Welfare Act, U.S. and international law, the bylaws of the zoological associations to which Georgia Aquarium belongs, Georgia Aquarium will acquire beluga whales which originated from the Sea of Okhotsk. In its review of the research, the IUCN found this acquisition will have zero negative impact on the native population.

We have applied for a permit to bring these animals to the United States. After we welcome the animals to the U.S., the whales will make their home at Georgia Aquarium and other leading accredited aquariums and zoological parks in North America and will become part of a collective breeding program among these institutions known as a Species Survival Plan. Georgia Aquarium is proud to take this bold step in beluga conservation and is excited to show our new belugas the same love and care that we give to all of our animals.

Please watch as Georgia Aquarium Chief Zoological Officer William Hurley explains more about our beluga conservation project.

For more information, visit our beluga whale research and conservation page on our website.