Five Beluga whales have arrived at their new home in a Connecticut aquarium after a years-long legal battle to import them and two others from Canada. The first three animals were flown from Ontario to Connecticut on Friday, per the AP. They arrived in Mystic on three tractor-trailers, where they were lifted on their stretchers by cranes into their new habitat. Per WTNH, the other two whales arrived by early Saturday, concluding a 22-hour transport and five years of wrangling to move the animals from Marineland in Ontario. Government officials from Fisheries and Oceans Canada last month approved the export of the whales, seven months after US officials approved the move.
Connecticut-based Friends of Animals and other activists sought to block the transport in a lawsuit last fall claiming the transfer is about making money and not on conservation research. A federal judge in March declined to issue an injunction. The whales, which range in age from 7 to 12, were born in captivity and officials said they cannot safely be released into the ocean. Mystic officials said the five whales left an overcrowded habitat with about 50 other Belugas in Canada to join three other Belugas at the center of important research designed to benefit the species in the wild. The animals will be trained to voluntarily give blood, saliva, blowhole air and other samples in exchange for rewards.
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