A trainer in China reportedly put lipstick on a beluga whale in a desperate bid to make the marine park’s social media videos go viral.
The footage, recorded in Sun Asia Ocean World in Dalian, Liaoning province, did indeed garner a lot of attention, but people were far from impressed and condemned the degrading behavior of the keeper.
In a disturbing clip, an unidentified female trainer could be seen laughing as she smeared bright red lipstick on the whale’s mouth. She said the lipstick made the mammal look “prettier.”
The video, which sparked outrage amongst animal lovers and animal rights group, was widely circulated on the popular Chinese social media site Douyin, known as TikTok in English. The platform also shared even more disturbing photos of the woman kissing the animal and riding on its back.
The footage was viewed more than 100,000 times before it was removed.
The Sun Asia Ocean World soon expressed its “sincere apologies” and admitted the incident indeed happened inside the park.
However, the aquarium claimed the keeper in the controversial video left the company last month and the clip was filmed in 2017.
Nevertheless, the Asia branch of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) blasted the marine park for treating the mammal so callously and that too for some publicity.
“Are the ocean’s smiling angels now clowns,” said the organization in an online statement. “Lipstick contains substances harmful to animals. What about this beluga's well-being?"
Couple of years ago, PETA caught Sun Asia Ocean World keeping the belugas and dolphins in shallow tanks that could have posed serious health threats to the animals.
"In 2016, PETA exposed this sea world made many belugas and dolphins stay in shallow tanks. Those sea animals who had social needs were so anxious and living in pain. Now the situation of those poor animals still doesn't get any improvement," said Keith Guo, PETA Asia press officer for China.
Many online animal lovers also echoed the welfare group’s outrage, pointing out how there was absolutely no need for such a stupid stunt to get some followers and likes.
“I can’t believe people can do such things to make themselves popular. There are many ways to get more followers and likes, but please don’t harm the beluga whale,”posted one user.
Just when you thought we couldn't make the life of an animal in captivity any worse ... https://t.co/9eQw9roKqf— Mark Hawthorne ? (@markhawthorne) June 11, 2018
The ensuing outrage was also directed at the video-sharing platform Douyin, which was criticized for not having a policy banning animal cruelty.
The fact beluga whales are endangered species who are mostly found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, indicate the animals need to be dealt with all the care and caution instead of using them for commercial purposes.
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