19 Jun, 2024 @ 11:28
1 min read

Two beluga whales rescued from war-torn Ukraine and flown over to new home in Spain

Two beluga whales rescued from war-torn Ukraine and flown over to new home in Spain

TWO beluga whales have been rescued from a dolphinarium in war-torn Ukraine and brought to the Oceanografic in Valencia.

A 15-year-old male called Plombir and a 14-year-old female named Miranda, arrived at their new home on Tuesday after making a long journey from the conflict zone.

The transfer was organised by Oceanografic experts along with colleagues in America from SeaWorld and the Georgia Aquarium.


FEEDING TIME(Oceanografic image)

The whales were moved from the NEMO Dolphinarium in Kharkiv with the Ukrainian city suffering frequent shelling and less than a kilometre away from the facility.

Officials described it as a ‘very complex’ and ‘high-risk’ rescue operation, which required several months of preparation and involved numerous challenges and needed international cooperation.

The evacuation of the beluga whales started with a 12-hour journey by road from Kharkiv to Odessa, where Ukrainian keepers met with teams from Oceanografic, Georgia Aquarium and SeaWorld, who carried out the first veterinary checks.

After their medical, they resumed the journey to the border with Moldova and onto Chisinau airport.

A specially chartered plane with six international animal care experts then took a five-hour hour flight to Valencia.

On arrival, the belugas were promptly transferred to the Oceanografic in two large vehicles.

Valencian president, Carlos Mazon, said the rescue which had been carried out in a backdrop of ‘extreme danger’ was a ‘historic worldwide milestone for animal protection’.

The Oceanografic is the largest aquarium in Europe and the only one to already have beluga whales in its facilities.

In addition, it is the closest marine conservation centre to Ukraine and is accredited by the most rigorous international animal welfare organisations.

Zoological Operations director at the Oceanografic, Daniel Garcia-Parraga, said: “The belugas were in suboptimal body condition to undertake this type of journey, but if they had stayed in Kharkiv, their chances of survival would have been very slim.”

The belugas will initially be kept in areas that are not under public gaze, but when they have fully recovered and adapted to their new surroundings, they will join the current residents, Kylu and Yulka

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