Who doesn’t love Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? With his charm and good looks, it’s hard to believe anyone would get angry with him. Recently, though, he made the mistake of posting a photo online where he posed with a captive Beluga whale. Thousands of his fans reacted to his blind support of keeping these beautiful animals in captivity — and they were not happy about it at all.
LOOKS LIKE ‘THE ROCK’ IS COOKING UP SOME TROUBLE
“The Rock” recently visited the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta with his family. While there, he took what some may think are cute pictures with a few of the animals there. This one, he captured himself with a captive Beluga whale.
“Found my next co-star,” wrote Johnson. “Just look at this beautiful animal with staggering intelligence. And the Beluga Whale is awesome too. Seriously in awe of these creatures.”
It is commendable that Johnson took the time to talk about the Beluga whale’s intelligence. However, more than a few of his 112 million Instagram followers didn’t like that he appeared to be supporting keeping marine animals in captivity — something many animals advocates have pushed back on in recent years.
MAYBE CRITICISM IS NOT THE RIGHT APPROACH
Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), said that perhaps criticising Johnson is not the right approach. Instead, she urged his fans to use this as a teachable moment.
“To me, whenever a big celebrity or any celebrity does this kind of thing — I don’t think it’s the right response to just attack them, and [to say], ‘I’m not going to be your fan anymore,” said Rose. “I think that they’re just unaware, and the whole point of my job is the educate them.”
WHEN THEY KNOW BETTER, THEY DO BETTER
So, Rose put her money where her mouth is. She sent a tweet to Johnson. In the tweet, she gave him information on her organization, AWI, as well as enlightened him about Georgia Aquarium.
Sadly, Georgia Aquarium was named one of the worst aquariums in the country because of the conditions there. People there were even discovered trying to import wild-caught Beluga whales — thankfully, they were unsuccessful.
Rose made sure that Johnson received every bit of that information.
BELUGA WHALES DO NOT FARE WELL IN CAPTIVITY
You see, marine animals, especially Beluga whales, do not fare well in captivity. These whales are very social animals, and they travel very long distances to form small bonded groups. In captivity, it is impossible to replicate the natural environment that these animals need to live their happiest lives.
Such a great time with our ohana & friends at the famed Georgia Aquarium. The second largest aquarium in the world and the only institution outside of Asia that houses Whale Sharks. More than 100,000 animals and sea creatures here that I’m in constant awe of. Specifically, this Whale Shark that I’m contemplating jumping in the tank and jumping on its back. They call me the brown 💪🏾🦈 AquaMan. Thank you to President & COO, Joseph Handy & the entire Georgia Aquarium staff for being so gracious, kind & informative to my family and our friends. We had a blast! #GeorgiaAquarium #OhanaDay @hhgarcia41 📸
Yes, water mammals are stunning and mysterious, and the chance to get to see one up close and personal is incredible. However, please stop to consider how those poor animals feel about it.
“In the wild, Beluga whales can live up to 60 years or more,” said Heather Rally, Marine Veterinarian. “But in captivity, there are relatively few adults who live beyond the 20 – to – 25 – year range.”
Think about that the next time you want to visit an aquarium. Animals that should live nearly as long as we do, die off in captivity because it’s just that bad for them. Perhaps now that “The Rock” knows, he will make a different decision next time.
What do you think about supporting aquariums like this one? Let us know in the comments.