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Soaking up the attention at a Chinese waterpark, these Belugas may look healthy and even happy. But activists who took these videos, say these whales are suffering. They live here, at Zhuhai's Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, where visitors can take selfies with the animals and watch live shows. But critics say, this new appetite for animal entertainment in China, is driving demand for threatened species.
This is one of the country's 60 parks, and that number is growing. As Reuters' Farah Master reports, new facilities are opening monthly in China, but their conditions are dire.>> So activists and scientists say that capturing these creatures from the wild and bringing them into captivity. It's not only not sustainable, but it's not humane, a lot of the time the facilities in these marine parks are so inadequate.
That the marine creatures cannot last or survive very long. Which leads to the companies repurchasing them at, what activists say, is a very disposable rate and disposable manner.>> Feeding the marine park industry, local governments keen to boost their city's credentials. They're offering developers vast tracts of land, and cheap loans to build.
But activists claim these projects are failing to protect their wildlife. Because the facilities aren't equipped to keep them alive, animal protection groups have seen it first hand.>> We have seen really tiny tanks with a lot of dolphins inside single tank. We have seen a very poor quality tanks with like, paints coming off, or rusting water pipes.
>> The parks would not respond to multiple request for comment, all this is giving life to a shadowy trade. Where marine life is being caught illegally and sold for millions of dollars. It's especially worrying for rare animals like Orcas, so far there are no killer whale shows on the mainland, but that's about to change.
With Chimelong and a massive new park in Shanghai, both getting ready for their big debut to an eager audience.