Animal charity slams Chinese marine park after trainer puts lipstick on beluga whale for viral video
If there's one subject that's almost certain to get internet users riled up, it's animal cruelty. All you need to do to incur the self-righteous wrath of countless millions of commenters is to make the mistake of hurting or humiliating some poor defenceless creature, and then sit back and wait for the social media collective to figuratively kick your back doors in. Not only that, but the more committed commenters are to the issue of animal rights, the more vocal they'll inevitably be in their scathing condemnation.
If you want an example of a group whose animal rights advocacy can verge on the fanatical side, then look no further than Peta. Yes, despite their laudable goals and moral intentions, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have managed to incur a reputation for irresponsible and provocative publicity stunts, which some critics have decried as doing more harm than good overall.
The latest hot-button topic to ruffle their feathers is a viral video, which shows a beluga whale being treated to an underwater makeover. It all sounds like harmless good fun, but Peta say that the footage is no laughing matter.
The offending video in question apparently comes from the Sun Asia Ocean World aquarium in Dalian, in the Liaoning Province of China. The short clip shows staff at the aquarium diving into the whale's take, and applying bright red lipstick to the marine mammal's mouth.
The video of the cosmetics session was then promptly uploaded to Dou Yin (抖音), a popular Chinese video app, on June 9, and was criticised for its perceived animal cruelty. That was when the uproar from Peta Asia began in earnest. The original video has since been taken down by its uploader as a result of the subsequent backlash.
Press officer Keith Guo, a spokesperson for Peta Asia, stated that the aquarium has angered animal rights activists in the past, since it keeps many of its animals, such as belugas and dolphins, in tanks which the organisation has deemed too shallow to promote their health and well-being. Guo stated angrily that: "Those sea mammals who have social needs and vast water were so anxious and living in pain."
Sun Asia Ocean World has since apologised to the public for the viral video. In a statement, the aquarium appeared to be remorseful for the furore that the clip had caused, stating: "Hereby, we express our sincere apology to all the friends who like Sun Asia Ocean World".
The aquarium also claims that the keeper in the video who can be seen applying the lipstick has since left the company last month, and that it was was filmed in 2017 and uploaded to Dou Yin by someone else - not the trainer in question.
The beluga whale (or the white whale) are a species native to the Arctic Ocean. The easygoing, comparatively friendly nature of the species, as well as their intelligence, has made them popular at various aquariums around the world. However, the beluga is under threat, and have since been added to the red list of endangered species on International Union for Conservation of Nature as of 2008.