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Georgia Aquarium to Be New Home for Two Beluga Whales

Belugas Presently Located in Mexico City Amusement Park

Atlanta, GA (June 30, 2005) – In keeping with its commitment to be a world leader in promoting efforts to conserve aquatic wildlife, the Georgia Aquarium (non-profit, 501c3) has submitted an application to provide a new home for two male Beluga whales. The Belugas currently reside in an outdoor exhibit at an amusement park in Mexico City, where they have been on exhibit since 1998. Bernie Marcus, benefactor of the $200 million Georgia Aquarium, scheduled to open November 23, 2005, said that bringing these whales to live within the 455,000 square foot facility, the largest in the United States, "is exactly the kind of relocation" his Aquarium team considered "when they envisioned the conservation and research programs it would provide." With more than 5 million gallons, the Georgia Aquarium has been designed with a state-of-the-art animal health facility, including a veterinary hospital that is unique within the aquarium industry. The Aquarium's professional staff, with combined 60-years of experience, has participated in marine animal rescues, animal behavior enrichment and conservation programs. The Georgia Aquarium has requested a permit from NOAA Fisheries, a federal agency and a division of the Department of Commerce, to move the whales from Mexico City. ABOUT THE GEORGIA AQUARIUM The Georgia Aquarium will open in Atlanta, Georgia on November 23, 2005, as one of the world's largest aquarium facilities. With more than 5 million gallons of marine and fresh water, and 100,000 - 120,000 animals of 500 different species, the Georgia Aquarium is a $200 million gift to the people of Georgia from Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, and his wife Billi, through the Marcus Foundation. The Aquarium will be overseen by a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibitions and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and entertaining visitors' experiences, and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. It is the goal of the Georgia Aquarium to educate audiences of all ages, while promoting a fun and entertaining learning experience that inspires guests to appreciate the world's aquatic biodiversity and to take conservation action. Additional information on the Georgia Aquarium can be found at ABOUT BELUGA WHALES Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) are gregarious animals that are entirely found in arctic and sub arctic waters. There are between 50,000 and 80,000 in the world today, most of them about 15 feet in length, and weighing up to 3,300 pounds. Beluga whales become white as adults; they have teeth and a single blowhole. They are called the "canary of the sea" for the sounds they make, which can be heard outside the water. As with all marine animals, they are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. They are not listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. More than 30 Beluga whales presently reside in US aquariums. For information contact: Donna Fleishman Georgia Aquarium 770-241-8252 (cell)

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