Aquarium agrees to delay beluga whale delivery amid lawsuit

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HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) – A Connecticut aquarium has agreed to delay the acquisition of five belugas for research purposes in a lawsuit by an animal rights group trying to stop the delivery.

Mystic Aquarium will not import the whales until March 31 to give a judge time to decide the lawsuit and avoid an effort by Friends of Animals to obtain a preliminary injunction to stop delivery, according to documents filed with the Hartford Federal Court on December. 23.

Friends of Animals, based in Darien, Connecticut, filed a lawsuit in September, claiming the five belugas would be injured by the trip from their current home to Canada and by long-term relationships with others in their area. species.

The lawsuit has been filed against Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which approved the research license that allows Mystic Aquarium to import beluga whales from Marineland to Niagara Falls, Ontario.

“This is a great result for the beluga whales as it means they will not be removed from their current situation and transported to Mystic until the court has the opportunity to determine whether the government issued permit is. lawful, ”Stephen Hernick, an attorney for Friends of Animals, wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

The Mystic Aquarium is already home to three beluga whales, known for their white color and vocal sounds. At Mystic, they live in a 750,000-gallon outdoor habitat that the aquarium calls the largest in the United States.

Aquarium officials say the permit is the first of its kind and will allow them to conduct non-invasive research that is vital to helping boost endangered and depleted beluga populations. They did not say when the whales were originally due for delivery.

Friends of Animals claims the permit violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the National Environmental Protection Act because government officials failed to adequately address the potential harm to beluga whales due to displacement to Mystic.

The aquarium defends the research and claims that the beluga habitat will provide a safe, healthy and spacious environment for the five new whales.

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