Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Freedom He Will Never Know

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago announced this week that beginning at noon this Sunday, visitors will be allowed to see the male Beluga Whale that was born at the aquarium in December. While the people operating this aquarium are undoubtedly well meaning, the harsh reality is that this baby will spend his life in a confined indoor tank. He will never know the clear cold waters of Hudson Bay, or the Arctic Ocean, or the Russian White Sea where others of his kind are free to swim to the horizon and beyond. He will never experience what it is like to frolic beneath the ice, or chase squid, or forage the seabed for crabs. He will never feel the sun on his back, or spyhop to watch seabirds soar and swoop high above wind-swept waves, or feel the surge and swell of the seas in a wild winter storm. And, like others of his kind who are enslaved in aquariums around the world, he will die long before his time, never knowing what it was like to be free. An unbiased observer among your kind might ask, Why? Why do we doom this baby and others like him to abbreviated lives of inestimable boredom and unknowable sadness? And the shameful answer will be, we do it for our pleasure and entertainment.

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