A video shows a park trainer putting lipstick on a beluga whale to make it prettier for visitors. She kisses and rides the animal, too.
The incident happened at the Sun Asia Ocean World marine park located in Dalian city in north-eastern China's Liaoning Province.
The park has since taken the video down from its website and apologized to the people who were condemning the act. The park assured that its staff would undergo animal protection training to increase their awareness on proper handling of animals. Nevertheless, PETA Asia issued a statement critical of the park's practices.
Making The Beluga Whale Prettier
In the video, the trainer is telling the beluga whale that it is getting "prettier and prettier" while she continuously applies the lipstick on the beluga whale. The woman is even seen laughing as she daubs the lipstick on the whale's mouth.
Beluga whales are already classified as endangered species. They are mostly found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions but the Chinese marine park has four beluga whales in its keeping.
Reports said these four beluga whales were well taken care of and remain healthy. The park, however, did not escape the criticism from PETA Asia.
PETA Asia Releases Statement
PETA Asia said the incident showed that Sun Asia Ocean World is not well-informed about how whales in captivity should be handled. The group encourages the park to instead send the whales to sanctuaries that are more fitted to care for them.
The group highlighted that marine mammals are in fact suffering when park visitors touch them and trainers ride on them. Being in captivity already puts the animals in misery. In this case, the potential harmful lipstick ingredients added to the beluga's agony.
PETA Asia also put the spotlight on the fact that while visitors were delighted seeing the animals in marine parks and they went home with pleasant memories, the experience is the opposite for the animals.
Most captive whales die earlier than their counterparts who are living in their natural habitat. Beluga whales also navigate the oceans using their sonar waves, a capability deprived from them while inside the aquarium, where they are compelled to swim in endless circles.
PETA Asia noted that lipstick may contain ingredients harmful to animals. The statement also mentioned how rats, mice, and rabbits are being used during trials of cosmetics products.
"Don't forget that there's no reason why anyone should put lipstick on a beluga whale-or any other animal for that matter," the statement reads.
Toxic Metals In Lipstick
In 2013, a study conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health found that 32 lipstick brands and lip glosses contained traces of harmful metal compositions. The brands, commonly bought in drug stores and malls, were found to contain lead, cadmium, chromium, and aluminum. Some of the brands even contained chemical levels that could already cause health concerns.