Yesterday, Merlin Entertainments, the parent company of SEA LIFE aquariums announced its half-year financial results to the world. Proudly boasting of income growth of £30 million, the company has raked in a massive £513 million pounds in just the first six months of the year. The company further promotes a huge £61 million expenditure on its existing attractions, including: a new roller coaster and a new captive penguin display. Meanwhile the three beluga whales held captive in the Shanghai SEA LIFE centre continue to perform in circus shows three times a day.
Just a few days ago, the company’s conservation partner – a well-respected whale and dolphin conservation group – released a statement which suggested lack of money was one of the issues which still need to be solved if a solution is to be found for the whales.The statement confirmed that, amongst other things “securing the many hundreds of thousands of pounds of funds needed to finance this complicated process” was one of the steps that need to be taken if the whales were ever to be released from their swimming pool home.In an infographic, the organisation restated that cost was an issue, saying: “The finances involved are huge. Long distance transportation, the equipment involved and the long term care of the belugas in a natural sea pen is going to be very costly”.
Said Liz Tyson, Director of CAPS: “It is astounding that Merlin sees fit to spend money on roller coasters and captive animal displays when their charitable partners are raising public concerns about where money will come from in order to find a long-term solution for the whales that Merlin are exploiting right now. Of all of the complex problems that unarguably need to be overcome in relocating the whales, money should not be one of them. Merlin has the money and it is hugely concerning that it seems the company has not yet pledged to finance the move if and when it ever makes the right decision to end the shows and retire the whales”.
The global company was also, once again, caught out in a lie as it clearly listed the Shanghai aquarium as a SEA LIFE centre in its presentation to investors. Staff from Merlin have repeatedly claimed that the Shanghai centre was not part of the SEA LIFE brand in a bid to end accusations of hypocrisy given SEA LIFE’s supposed stance against whales and dolphins in captivity.
The Head of Public Relations for Merlin has told concerned members of the public that the Shanghai centre did not belong to the SEA LIFE brand saying “[the Shanghai aquarium] is not yet a branded Sea Life attraction” and the company’s website was quietly amended so that the centre was removed from the list of SEA LIFE attractions some months ago.
Despite this, in yesterday’s presentation to investors, the Shanghai aquarium was once again listed under SEA LIFE aquariums, making a mockery of the company’s claim that “SEA LIFE believes it is wrong to keep whales and dolphins in captivity”.
Ms Tyson added: “The petition calling on Merlin to do the right thing by the whales has almost surpassed 7,000 signatures and still Merlin has made no attempt to answer concerns”.