A rescued beluga whale arrived at his new home at SeaWorld San Antonio late Thursday night.
Tyonek is the first-ever stranded Cook Inlet beluga whale to be successfully rescued and rehabilitated, according to SeaWorld.
The whale made the 4,000-mile journey to San Antonio after NOAA decided this was the "location best suited for Tyonek to thrive."
The calf was less than a month old when he was found stranded in Cook Inlet, Alaska in September 2017 by state and federal wildlife officers. SeaWorld says that based on his weakened condition, "It is likely his mother either abandoned him or died, so reuniting him with her was not an option." According to NOAA Fisheries, Tyonek lacks both survival and socialization skills needed to be successful on his own in the wild.
“We are proud to play our part in Tyonek’s continued care, alongside the federal government and other professionally accredited aquariums that have helped since his rescue,” said SeaWorld Chief Zoological Officer Dr. Chris Dold.
SeaWorld says that Tyonek will remain "behind the scenes" in the zoological support area of the park as he acclimates to his new home. The park says that they are excited to share the whale's story to parkgoers.
“Tyonek has an amazing story that we want to share with our guests, fans and people across the globe so they can learn more about this species and how to protect them,” said Chris Bellows, SeaWorld San Antonio’s Vice President of Zoological Operations.