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October 25, 2021

Two Beluga Whales Out of the Ocean for 10 Years Are Released Back into the Wild

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Two Beluga whales finally returned to the wild after ten years in captivity. A video of their odyssey to freedom has been melting hearts around the globe.

In 2011, a Russian whale research center captured two Beluga whales, Little White and Little Gray. Shortly after, they transferred the duo to a water park in China, where they spent the last few years performing tricks for people's entertainment.

While the two always looked happy with smiles on their faces throughout their stay at the park, it was apparent they would be happier in their natural habitat, free from confinement.

A picture of the Beluga Whale being returned to the wild | Photo: Getty Images

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Their day of freedom finally came after the water park, which had been their home for almost a decade, decided to 'rewild' them in 2019. The two were transported from the Chinese park to a care facility on the Icelandic island of Vestmannaeyjar.

After undergoing several checks and acclimatization in preparation for their new lives in the wild, the care facility transported them to a larger sanctuary in Klettsvik Bay, off the country's south coast.

However, that was hardly the end of their 6000-mile journey, which saw the cetaceans travel by air, road, and boat. Little White and Little Grey were placed in a care pool in Kettsvit Bay.

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The pool would serve as their temporary home until they grew accustomed to the colder temperature, nutrition, and hunting conditions of the deep oceans.

Their journey was sponsored by the British charity Sea Life Trust. A video of the harrowing odyssey showed the whales take off from their longtime home in china to Iceland, carried on special slings with foam to cushion them from turbulence.

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A ride on a Boeing 747-400ERF cargo aircraft, a special Sea Life Trust truck, and a boat later, they were deposited carefully into the Klettsvik Bay sanctuary.

A netizen's comment on the heartwarming video on Youtube | Photo: Youtube/abcnews

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The journey ended with the pair swimming joyfully around their new home as their caregivers gave celebratory cheers. Although the farewell was an emotional one for the caregivers who had become fond of the belugas over time, they knew letting them go was the best decision.

Head of Sea Life Trust Andy Bool confirmed the first stage of the belugas' release was hitch-free, except for a minor setback due to the coronavirus pandemic. They could only hope for the final phase to proceed as planned. He shared:

“We are carefully monitoring Little Grey and Little white with our expert care team and veterinarians and hope to announce their final release soon.”

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A netizen's comment on the heartwarming video on Youtube | Photo: Youtube/abcnews

Several netizens have since commended the efforts of Sea Life Trust and others involved in freeing the whales from captivity. Most admitted the story moved them to tears, restoring their hope in humanity. 

A comment read, "I teared up after seeing that photo of his or her smiling eyes at the beginning. It is nice to have something to look at that is so refreshing and joyous during these perilous times."

Others encourage more people to assist in animal rescue operations, especially for endangered species. Many insisted all animals deserved equal treatment and hence should never have to live in captivity, away from the wild.

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