Representatives of several wildlife conservation groups from around Taiwan are scheduled to gather at Kaohsiung International Airport today to protest the arrival of four endangered whales likely to be used by an aquarium for profit-making purposes.
The four belugas, also known as white whales, have been imported by the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, located in Checheng Township, in the southern Taiwan county of Pingtung. They are scheduled to arrive at Kaohsiung airport from Russia today.
Wildlife conservationists are calling for the four female belugas to be set free in their natural habitat in the Arctic Ocean, rather than being airlifted to an artificial aquarium located near the equator for commercial purposes.
Officials of the Wildlife Educational Center under the Kaohsiung Teachers Association said white whales are a highly intelligent mammal species, gregarious in nature and native to the North Pole and Arctic Ocean. White whales migrate within a vast area wider than 2,000 kilometers and can dive as deep as 800 meters, KTA members said.
The“showroom”that the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium has prepared for the new“stars,” however, is a tank of about 3,300 cubic meters, the Kaohsiung teachers said, adding that keeping white whales in such a space which of course cannot duplicate an Arctic Ocean environment is an act of exploitation and mistreatment of animals.
然而，高市教師們指出，國立海洋生物博物館為新到來的白鯨所準備的“展示間”，只是一個約三千三百立方公尺的水缸，他們並表示，讓白鯨待在這樣的空間 — 他們當然無法複製出北極海域的環境 — 簡直是剝削與虐待動物。
The society has opposed the aquarium's desire to bring the belugas to Taiwan and has blasted the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture for having issued an import permit for the endangered species.
Officials from the Hualien-based Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation, a cetacean-protection group, dismissedd contentions that the Russian white whales would be imported for educational purposes and research experiments.
They said that the four belugas imported from Russia in 2002 are now“performers”at the Pingtung aquarium, where the animals have been trained to do tricks such as nodding, spraying water, dancing or holding balls to win applause from paying spectators.
The Hi-Scene World Enterprise Company, which is commissioned to run the aquarium, has attempted to defend itself by claiming the white whales are not performing, but are giving“educational displays.”
The company also said export permits from Russia and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora have been obtained for the four beluga imports.