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Inspectors of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have criticized Mystic Aquarium’s care of a 5-year-old male beluga whale who died in August 2021. Havok was one of five beluga whales that were transferred from Marineland Canada to Connecticut’s aquarium last year. He died in the early morning of 6th Aug, while one of the transferred females died this February.

The inspectors’ report states, “Although staff members were recording their observations of Havok’s behaviours, the veterinarian was not contacted during this eight-hour timeframe until Havok’s death at 0550 hours (5:50 a.m.). The facility failed to provide adequate veterinary care by not using appropriate methods to prevent, control, diagnose and treat diseases during Havok’s last eight hours.” 

A review of aquarium records found numerous instances in which Havok injured himself in the pools where he and the other whales from Canada were being kept with the other three permeant whale inmates at the aquarium. The USDA also found there the holding pool lacked sufficient shelter to protect the animals from direct sunlight, and eight consecutive days when the level of ozone in the water exceeded that which is considered acceptable.

Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, one of the groups that opposed the whales’ transfer last year, said to The Day: “Mystic deceives the public by using research to justify importing belugas and its fundraising efforts. The public needs to wake up and see that the staff at Mystic doesn’t even know what to do when an animal is dying in front of them, let alone conduct research…Keeping whales in bathtubs for photo ops is not research or conservation unless you are researching how to make more money… It’s long past time for Connecticut to ban importing whales and breeding in captivity… The legal system failed these belugas, but we still have the court of public opinion. It’s time to redefine family entertainment as something other than exploiting animals.” 

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