Animal Defenders, Mystic Aquarium Tussle Over Beluga Whales

A proposal to import five whales to Connecticut has sparked a standoff between animal welfare groups and an aquarium that says the animals will contribute to its research.

Mystic Aquarium wants to import the captive-born beluga whales from MarineLand of Canada in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The Connecticut aquarium, where belugas have been a popular attraction for generations, says the acquisition of the whales would enable research that helps protect the species.

Animal Welfare Institute and other animal advocates disagree. They say the stress of importation would be too much for the whales, and it would make more sense for the scientists to come to the animals.

The importation would require a federal permit, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is taking comments on the permit application until Dec. 2.

NBC Connecticut has reached out to Mystic Aquarium for a comment.

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