Georgia Aquarium Shamed as #4 Worst Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium Shamed as #4 Worst Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium Shamed as #4 Worst Aquarium

10 Worst Tanks List for Dolphins and Whales Announced

CONTACT: Toni Frohoff, Ph.D.,, (805) 836-0496

Atlanta, GA (July 20, 2016) – International animal protection organization, In Defense of Animals, today released its list of the Ten Worst Tanks for Dolphins and Whales in North America, with the #4 spot shaming Georgia Aquarium as the “dying pool”.

The Ten Worst Tanks list exposes and represents the misery and suffering of some of the oceans’ most intelligent and complex mammals in captivity. Whales and dolphins are subject to astonishing rates of premature death, captivity-related injuries, forced removal of babies from mothers, and solitary isolation. Many are confined to swimming endless circles in cramped tanks, deprived of healthy social groups, and forced to endure invasive reproduction techniques, polluted water, dangerous transport, and brutal exploitation of their sociable natures through “swim” and “petting” programs.

The list was selected from over 60 facilities from southern Canada to Mexico where almost 1,000 whales and dolphins are held captive for public display.

“Georgia Aquarium and its dying pool plumbs the depths in exploitation of intelligent and sensitive animals,” said In Defense of Animals President, Dr. Marilyn Kroplick. “Even with the most modern technology, veterinary care, and infrastructure, cetaceans still suffer intensely in captivity and exhibit surprisingly high mortality rates. Please help protect dolphins and whales in the wild where they belong, by pledging to never visit facilities that imprison them.”

Georgia Aquarium’s Shame

The Georgia Aquarium is one of the most active players in the cetacean exploitation captivity industry. Its string of sins includes attempting to import wild-caught beluga whales from Russia, hosting swim-with-dolphin programs, holding belugas inside an enclosed building, and shipping belugas across the country with no apparent regard for their social, psychological, and physical well-being.

We call Georgia Aquarium the “dying pool” owing to three beluga whale deaths at the facility between 2012 and 2015. Maris, a captive-born beluga, lost her first-born calf only a few days after giving birth. Her second calf died after 26 days. Five months later, Maris herself died at just 20 years old, falling well short of her potential 70-year maximum lifespan. Despite these major failures, the Georgia Aquarium put additional beluga lives at risk by leading an attempt to import 18 wild-caught belugas from the Russian Far East in 2012. The National Marine Fisheries Service denied the import permit, citing the negative impact on declining wild populations, and that five of the beluga whales in question were so young they were likely still nursing from their mothers. Ignoring the welfare and conservation concerns, Georgia Aquarium unsuccessfully took the National Marine Fisheries Service to court in its attempts to override the ruling.

Georgia Aquarium ships beluga whales and dolphins between facilities with disregard for their close social needs. On a single day in February 2016, they were involved in transporting four belugas to and from marine park facilities across the country.

Beyond belugas, thirteen dolphins are held captive at the Georgia Aquarium. The company also owns Marineland Dolphin Adventure in St. Augustine, Florida, where 14 dolphins are regularly subjected to “hands-on dolphins” programs for the public. Five dolphins have died there within a span of four years from 2012 to 2015.

Despite being denied import permits for the Russian belugas, Georgia Aquarium unsuccessfully appealed the agency decision. But that didn’t stop the company from “restocking” belugas from other aquariums in the very same dying pools in which Maris and her two babies lost their short, sad lives.


1. SeaWorld, San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; Orlando, Florida
2. Marineland, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
3. Puerto Aventuras Dolphin Discovery, Mayan Riviera, Quinta Roo, Mexico
4. Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia
5. Miami Seaquarium, Miami, Florida
6. Six Flags Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
7. Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, Gulfport, Mississippi and Unnamed new facility planned by same owner also in Gulfport, Mississippi
8. Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada
9. Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
10. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois

Dishonorable Mention:
Dophinaris, Scottsdale, Arizona

Honorable Mention:
National Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland

### NOTES ###

The Ten Worst Tanks list was produced over the past year by multiple cetacean experts and scientists to represent the myriad horrors faced by cetaceans in captivity. Facilities were examined and investigated in-person; through review of government records, veterinary records, and death reports; and via image and data documentation.

In Defense of Animals also produces the respected Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants List, now in its twelfth year:

For more information please visit:

### ENDS ###

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization located in San Rafael, Calif. dedicated to protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, outreach, and our hands-on rescue facilities in India, Africa, and rural Mississippi.

IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048