SeaWorld Orlando welcomed two new beluga whales to the park’s Wild Arctic exhibit over the weekend.
The pair are both 11-year-old males that had been on display at other facilities accredited by groups like the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AAZ). Oliver is a transplant from SeaWorld San Antonio, while Grayson’s last home was Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.
According to SeaWorld, the two are among the few belugas being housed in accredited aquariums.
“Less than 30 beluga whales remain in North American accredited facilities; which makes it crucial for facilities to collaboratively sustain the population, provide opportunities for research, and continue connecting millions of people with these incredible animals,” the park said in a blog post. “Beluga whales like Oliver and Grayson allow the scientific community to better understand beluga whales and their behavior, and will give guests the opportunity to learn about and ultimately conserve this species of whale and its natural habitat.”
These trades between aquariums help promote genetic diversity in the breeding programs for these belugas.
On the same day the Orlando promoted the arrival of Oliver and Grayson, Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut announced a 37-year-old female named Natasha had been added from SeaWorld San Antonio. Moving isn’t a new experience for Grayson, having previously been transferred from the Georgia Aquarium to Chicago in 2016.
In 2017, two baby belugas died shortly after birth at SeaWorld Orlando in a seven-week span.
Photo credit: Grayson, a beluga whale at SeaWorld Orlando (SeaWorld)