China marine park apologises after trainer puts lipstick on beluga whale
Park promises to improve training after member of staff shown in video applying cosmetics to the white whale
A marine park in northeastern China has apologised after a video showed one of its trainers applying lipstick to a beluga whale in an aquarium.
The trainer from Sun Asia Ocean World in Dalian, Liaoning province is seen in the short clip laughing as she smears bright red lipstick on the whale’s mouth.
The video sparked outrage among animal lovers online after it was widely circulated on the popular Chinese social media site Douyin, known as Tik Tok in English.
The clip was seen more than 100,000 times before it was removed this week.
Sun Asia Ocean World issued a statement on Monday, apologising for the video.
The clip was recorded by a trainer at work last year, but she resigned last month, Beijing Youth Daily quoted the statement as saying .
The park said it would improve its management and strengthen staff training on their awareness of animal protection.
The animal rights group PETA Asia condemned the behaviour of the trainer.
“Are the ocean’s smiling angels now clowns,” said the organisation in an online statement. “Lipstick contains substances harmful to animals. What about this beluga's well-being?"
Chinese internet users also suggested that smearing lipstick on whales put them at risk of infection.
Others, however, thought the controversy was overblown.
“It’s merely lipstick. It’s not toxic. Smearing some is no big deal,” one person wrote.
Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Public Health found traces of lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminium and five other metals in 32 lipsticks that could harm health, especially when ingested and absorbed by the human body, in research published in 2013.
Beluga whales are an endangered species most commonly found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.
Four beluga whales are kept at the Dalian marine park, which appear to be in good health, the newspaper report said.