The Luck of the Beluga


Me and Juno drew a major crowd thanks to interacting with each other behind the glass.

For many years, I have had the privilege of interacting with a variety of captive marine mammals. Many of these interactions were done during interactive training sessions I got to do with the trainers. However, some of them were actually done behind the glass walls of animal exhibits. So, this past St. Patrick’s Day, I was visiting the animals at Mystic Aquarium when I began to play with an adolescent beluga whale named Juno behind the glass walls of the Arctic Coast exhibit. I was laying a few stuffed animals behind the glass walls of Juno’s home in hopes either he or one of the two elderly females he shares his exhibit with when all of the sudden, Juno came right up to me as if he knew me forever. I immediately responded to him back by showing off a stuffed beluga whale and a small mirror. He was simply very curious about my stuffed beluga whale though. He must of thought “wow, that must be one small beluga”. But, I can’t read what’s going on in his mind, I can only assume that he must have been thinking of plush toy counterpart as a mini version of himself or something. Juno and I were interacting with one another for such a long period of time, that we attracted a huge crowd of people to the exhibit to catch a glimpse of a rare human-animal bond. As the people were overcrowding the underwater viewing areas, Juno and I continued to interact for the next hour or so. On some occasions, he would pop his jaws out at the little kids who try to grab his attention and he would respond to me whistling a few tunes for him, and finally, show off a couple more stuffed animals before he went back to simply doing his own little thing. Overall, the interaction just shows you how intelligent beluga whales are because of their strong curiosity towards people. In fact, it’s normal for them to approach other animals, people, and foreign objects out of curiosity both, in the wild and in captivity.

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