The incident took place at Sun Asia Ocean World in Dalian, China, several websites report. The clip, posted by Shanghaiist on Facebook yesterday, shows the trainer applying lipstick to the whale as the mammal waited patiently. The video was posted on Chinese social media site Douyin and captioned "Very pretty!" reports Shanghaiist.
The video created quite a stir online and attracted the attention of several animal welfare organisations, including PETA's Asia branch. The group called for an investigation into the incident, reports South China Morning Post. "Are the ocean's smiling angels now clowns," the organisation said in an online statement. "Lipstick contains substances harmful to animals. What about this beluga's well-being?"
Watch the video below:
The marine park eventually released an apology over the incident. "Hereby, we express our sincere apology to all the friends who like Sun Asia Ocean World," the marine park said in statement on June 11, as reported by DailyMail. The park reportedly expressed remorse over the incident and criticized the trainer's act. They also added that the video in question had been shot in 2017 and the trainer captured in the video had left Sun Asia Ocean World a month ago.
Beluga whales are easily identifiable due to their distinctive white colouring and prominent foreheads, according to World Wildlife Fund or WWF. Belugas are social animals and very vocal communicators, according to National Geographic.