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Some of the team with one of the beluga whales. Photo: Oceanogràfic / Video: Europa Press
Animal welfare

Video: Two beluga whales are rescued from dolphinarium in Ukraine and transferred to new home in Spain

The high-risk operation involved a large team of experts rescuing the animals from the war-torn city of Kharkov, which is constantly under the threat of Russian attacks

María Gardó

Valencia

Wednesday, 19 June 2024, 16:19

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Two beluga whales have been rescued from a dolphinarium in war-torn Ukraine and transferred to an aquarium in Spain's Valencia.

Marine specialists from the Oceanogràfic in Valencia and the American aquariums of Georgia Aquarium and SeaWorld carried out the high-risk international operation to rescue the two beluga whales from the NEMO Dolphinarium in Kharkov, which is under constant threat from Russian missiles.

The animals, a 15-year-old male called Plombir and a 14-year-old female called Miranda, arrived at the Oceanogràfic in Valencia on Tuesday 18 June in good health after a long journey from the conflict zone.

The evacuation of the beluga whales started with a 12-hour drive from Kharkov to Odessa. From there, the Ukrainian keepers met with teams from the Oceanogràfic, Georgia Aquarium and SeaWorld, who carried out veterinary checks. After the check-up, they resumed their journey to the border with Moldova. The collaboration of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) was then crucial in speeding up the border crossing and reducing the arrival time at Chisinau Airport in Moldova.

Some of the animal care team with one of the beluga whales. Oceanogràfic

A plane, specially chartered for the beluga whales and carrying six international animal care experts, then successfully completed its transfer to Valencia after a five-hour flight.

On their arrival, the beluga whales were transferred to Oceanogràfic in two large vehicles. Generalitat Valenciana president Carlos Mazón said: "this rescue, which has been carried out in a situation of extreme danger, is a historic milestone at world level in terms of animal protection".

"It is an honour that the Oceanogràfic has two new beluga whales that have been rescued from the horror of the war in Ukraine and have been going through a difficult situation over the last few months, and that the Oceanogràfic's great professionals are going to work hard to help them recover."

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