Atlanta, GA (October 17, 2005) – Nico and Gasper, two male beluga whales, arrived safely at the Georgia Aquarium early Monday morning, October 17, 2005. The beluga whales are becoming accustomed to their new surroundings and the media will be invited for their first view as soon as possible. Nico and Gasper came from a Mexico City amusement park outdoor exhibit. In their new home at the Georgia Aquarium, Nico and Gasper will enjoy an 800,000 gallon state-of-the-art habitat designed to simulate their natural environment. The rescue of Nico and Gasper is a prime example of the Georgia Aquarium's 4R (Research, Relocation, Rescue and Rehabilitation) program. The program is designed to make a positive difference in the health and well-being of aquatic animals. This program allows the public to be directly involved in making a positive difference in the lives of animals through their financial contributions. More information about the 4R program can be found at www.georgiaaquarium.org. A 767 UPS cargo jet flew Nico and Gasper 1,331 miles to Atlanta. UPS donated this service to the Georgia Aquarium. Previously, UPS had flown Ralph and Norton, the Aquarium's two whale sharks, from Taiwan in June. Ralph and Norton are doing well in their 6.2 million gallon habitat. Bernie Marcus, benefactor of the Georgia Aquarium, which opens November 23, 2005, said that, "this relocation is reflective of the conservation program that is at the very foundation of the Georgia Aquarium's mission. " "We are excited that Nico and Gasper are comfortably settling into their new home here." Before opening, female beluga whales will join Nico and Gasper in the beluga whale habitat on a breeding loan from an accredited American Zoo and Aquarium Association facility. Annual Passes to the Georgia Aquarium went on sale Friday, October 14. As of the time of this alert, more than 14,000 people have purchased their membership. November 21 and 22 are sneak-peak days exclusively reserved for Aquarium members. Grand Opening to the general public is November 23, 2005.
ABOUT BELUGA WHALES Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) are gregarious animals that are entirely found in arctic and sub-arctic waters. There are between 125,000 and 197,000 beluga whales in North American waters today. An adult beluga whale can grow to 15 feet in length, and weigh 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 above 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. There are currently 34 beluga whales in a breeding alliance in aquariums and parks in North America today. ABOUT THE BELUGA WHALES FROM MEXICO CITY Two male beluga whales resided at the La Feria amusement park in Mexico City. Named Nico and Gasper, they are about 15 years old and 11 feet long. Their previous home was next to a rollercoaster and busy road. Both beluga whales arrived at the Georgia Aquarium on October 17, 2005. ABOUT THE GEORGIA AQUARIUM BELUGA WHALE HABITAT The Georgia Aquarium is the newest aquarium facility in the world with an 800,000 gallon state-of-the-art beluga whale habitat. The facility is specially designed to provide an enriched environment for the beluga whales that simulates their natural environment. Because belugas whales live in cold water environments the water will be kept at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or about 13 degrees Celsius. The general public, student groups and private functions each have their own views into the beluga whale habitat. # # # For information contact: Donna Fleishman Georgia Aquarium 770 241 8252 email@example.com 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 8 million gallons of marine and fresh water, and more than 100,000 animals of 500 different species, the Georgia Aquarium is a 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. Additional information on the Georgia Aquarium can be found at www.georgiaaquarium.org.