Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy Petitions National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the 'Taking' of 18 Wild Beluga Whales from Russia
The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy is petitioning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to stop the ‘taking' of 18 wild beluga whales from Russia destined for captivity says Lori Morino, the Executive Director of the Kimmela Center.
(PRWEB) October 28, 2012
The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy is petitioning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to deny the Georgia Aquarium a permit which would allow them to import 18 wild beluga whales from Russia that would be destined for captivity in U.S. zoos and aquariums.
Lori Marino, Executive Director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy says it is both ‘unethical and illegal' for these marine mammals to be taken from the wild to profit the zoos and aquariums.
“The Kimmela Center is opposed to the importation of wild-caught marine mammals because not only is it unethical by any reasonable standards, it is a clear violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act,” says Marino.
Marino is asking the public to help stop the taking of these wild belugas by submitting their comments to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by midnight October 29th.
“The public can help determine whether or not these belugas will be taken from their home in the wild,” says Marino.
Marino says the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) requires that such captures be humane and public displays of marine mammals be educational. She says she believes neither of these requirements is being fulfilled by the Georgia Aquarium.
“The Georgia Aquarium has provided no evidence that their marine mammal displays, online courses, or purported educational materials meet even minimal standards for real education,” says Morino, adding, “The methods used to capture these whales described in the NOAA application are clearly inhumane and involve not only tremendous stress and trauma for the whales as they are wrestled from the ocean and their natal social groups but poses an intolerable level of risk in transferring them by air to the various facilities in the U.S.”
Marino, a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Institution, received her Ph.D. in 1995 from the State University of New York at Albany where she began her current research program on cetacean and primate intelligence. Her specific interests are in brain-behavior relationships, the evolution of intelligence, self-awareness in other species, and, more recently, human-nonhuman relationships.
In 2001 she and her colleague Diana Reiss published the first evidence for mirror self-recognition in bottlenose dolphins in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She has developed and taught Brain Imaging at Emory University's Department of Neuroscience and Behavior Biology as well as several other content courses in comparative neuroanatomy and animal behavior.
The taking of wild belugas falls directly into Marino interest in providing an academic context for the study of non-invasive models of science, animal welfare, advocacy, and ethics.
“We want the public to be aware of the ways they are manipulated by the marine mammal theme park industry in order to sell tickets,” says Marino. “They do this through deceptive messaging, entertainment thinly disguised as education, and false information about the welfare of the marine mammals in their public displays.”
“We hope that NOAA will realize that the request from the Georgia Aquarium is a violation of public trust and beyond the pale in that it clearly violates both criteria set forth by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and minimal ethical standards,” says Marino. “The practice of taking wild marine mammals for marine park entertainment was judged inhumane and unacceptable by the public more than twenty years ago. Given what more we know about beluga intelligence and their lives in the wild, it is even more so now.”
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