Free Bella, the lonely beluga trapped for over 10 years in a Seoul shopping mall tank (petition)

For more than 10 years Bella has been confined to a tiny tank at the Lotte World Aquarium, a prisoner in the tallest skyscraper in South Korea: several activists are mobilizing to save the solitary beluga and give it back its freedom, who have launched a petition

In the heart of Seoul, within one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, a 13-year-old female beluga named Bella swims alone in a small tank, a stark contrast to the vast ocean she once knew. Trapped for over a decade, Bella’s story began in 2013 when she was captured from the Arctic waters off the coast of Russia along with two other belugas. She was subsequently sold to the Lotte Aquarium, where her life has been anything but normal.

Following the premature deaths of her tank mates, Bella has been left in complete isolation. Her conditions are deeply concerning; she exhibits obsessive behaviors and signs of severe stress and mental distress due to her captivity, as reported by the Guardian during a visit to the aquarium.

The petition to move the beluga to a sanctuary

Despite promises made in 2019 and again in 2021 by the aquarium’s management to release her, these commitments remain unfulfilled. However, activists from Dolphin Project and Hot Pink Dolphins continue to fight for her freedom, rallying under the slogan “Free Bella.” They have launched an online petition to transfer Bella to a cetacean sanctuary.

In a hopeful turn, South Korea banned the sale and display of whales and dolphins last December. Unfortunately, this new law does not apply retroactively, leaving Bella and other marine animals in their current predicaments.

Activists lament that it has been nearly five years since the initial promise to release her was made. They argue she deserves to regain the freedom that was stolen from her.

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