Subject: Beluga:Young Female Beluga Whale Arri (fwd)

Michael Williamson (pita@whale.simmons.edu)
Tue, 18 Mar 1997 11:34:58 -0500 (EST)

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 97 00:14:00 GMT 
From: r.mallon1@genie.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, pita@whale.simmons.edu
Subject: Young Female Beluga Whale Arri

Young Female Beluga Whale Arrives at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium From Shedd
Aquarium

    TACOMA, Wash., March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Yesterday, one female beluga whale
arrived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium from Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Ill.,
as part of a national cooperative breeding program.  The transfers,
coordinated through the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and the Alliance
of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, are part of the first such conservation
programs in North America for marine mammals.  Two of Point Defiance Zoo &
Aquarium's whales -- one male and one female -- were transferred to the Shedd
as part of the program.  The Shedd whale joined Point Defiance Zoo &
Aquarium's remaining female.
    "This is a unique opportunity for us," according to Tom Otten, director of
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.  "As president of the American Zoo and Aquarium
Association, I'm especially pleased to be part of the first national
cooperative breeding program for marine mammals.  The zoo and aquarium
community has accomplished a great deal with many successful programs, such as
for red wolves, elephants, cheetahs and golden lion tamarins, and now we're
working with beluga whales in the same way."
    "This is especially important because we're looking at what's best for all
beluga whales in our care in North America, in addition to what's best for
individual animals," says Jim Robinett, director of animal collections at
Shedd Aquarium and president of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and
Aquariums.  "We are dedicated to the conservation of these animals.  When a
successful program is established, we have the opportunity to learn that much
more about the animals and their needs and can work to conserve those factors
in their natural environment."
    Naya, the eight-year-old female from the Shedd, was immediately introduced
to fifteen-year-old Sikku upon her arrival yesterday after a very successful
transport.
    The two whales that were transferred to the Shedd Aquarium will join a
male and two females after they have a chance to see and hear each other for a
short while.  "This brings more animals together including two males in the
same environment more closely mirroring their natural environment and leads to
a higher probability of successful breeding," says Otten.  "At this point in
time, the Shedd Aquarium is in the best position to work with a larger
grouping," he continues.  Robinett and Otten expect the transition to be
smooth for all of the animals involved.
    These animal exchanges could last several years, but the next steps depend
on what happens in the near future at all the zoos and aquariums involved in
the program.  Other organizations participating in this phase of the program
include the Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation in New York and the Mystic
Marinelife Aquarium in Connecticut.
    Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium's Rocky Shores habitat was designed with the
goal of enhancing public understanding and appreciation of the aquatic world
by providing a first-hand experience and inspiring people to take action in
the conservation and preservation of these magnificent animals and their
natural habitats.  Today, this goal has gained urgency as more of the world's
waters are polluted, more habitat is lost and more species go on the
endangered list.  "Through education, understanding and cooperative breeding
programs such as this, we can make significant contributions to conserve these
animals and maintain the earth's biological diversity."
    This project was made possible through the generous support of Washington
Moving and Data Storage, an Atlas Van Lines agent and United Airlines, the
official airline of the John G. Shedd Aquarium.  Through their contributions
the safe transportation of the beluga whales was made possible.
    The beluga whales can be seen every day from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  See
what's new at your Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium!