Sanctuary Stories

A Tale of Two Whales and the World’s First Beluga Sanctuary

Little White and Little Grey were captured when they were just starting their lives — 10 years later, they’re being prepared for freedom

Jessica Scott-Reid
Published in
5 min readJan 28, 2020


Photos: Tesni Ward

Off the arctic coast of Russia, ten years ago, two young beluga whales were captured and taken into captivity. First, they were sent to a coastal research facility. Then, they were sold to a marine park in China. There, they were trained and exploited for entertainment, and life for the pair — much like for the thousands of other cetaceans currently in captivity — looked bleak.

But then their fate changed, and a decade later, the whales, now named Little White and Little Grey, are becoming famous pioneers, or “ambassadors,” as Andy Bool, head of charitable organization Sea Life Trust, describes it. Because soon, they will be returned to the sea.

Sea Life Trust is the charitable partner of Merlin Entertainment, a UK-based company known for its entertainment attractions, including Madam Tussaud’s wax museums, Legoland parks, and other theme parks…