11:54 AM PDT, June 21, 2021
The money will be used to care for the whales, and the cost of transporting them in a C-130 transport plane with special stretchers and tanks.
The Mystic Aquarium hopes to raise $4 million at the Aug. 19 auction, according to Stephen Coan, the president of Sea Research Foundation, which owns the aquarium. The sale will also feature donated art works.
“The three whales will get what we refer to as stage names, and they would be referred to by those names going forward,” Coan said. “We’ve named other animals in the past and people get very excited about the opportunity. It really makes the animals part of the community and the community feels they are part of the experience of welcoming the new animals.”
Caring for the protected mammals is not cheap. It will cost the facility about $5 million annually to care for the whales, which includes some $250,000 a year for food and marine veterinary care for each pale, pudgy creature.
The aquarium encountered opposition from some animal rights groups and spent months securing the needed permissions from both countries before moving the mammals. The facility specializes in beluga research.
The newly arrived whales are adjusting well, Coan said, and adapting to sharing space with three other belugas already living at the aquarium. In total, five new whales arrived at the habitat. They will be named at a later date, Coan said.
“They are getting to know each other now, so it’s quite a sight,” he said.