The rescued beluga calf Tyonek from Cook Inlet has a new home at SeaWorld San Antonio. Tyonek traveled in a truck to Anchorage and then flew on a charter plane from Anchorage to his new life in Texas on Thursday.
Tyonek was originally found malnourished and dehydrated on a beach last September and was transferred to Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. He was just a month old. According to a statement from the center, animal care experts from around the country flew in to provide him with around-the clock-care.
However, after a few months, Tyonek progressed, becoming stronger and more independent. He became the first Cook Inlet beluga whale to be ever be successfully rehabilitated. The center only worked with one other beluga prior Tyonek.
Bulega whales are an endangered species and the center’s team was hopeful that Toynek may be released back into the wild. But in January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA announced that due to his dependence on humans and his lack of social skills, he’s unfit to survive in the wild.
NOAA said they selected SeaWorld San Antonio for the beluga’s new home because it is the “location best suited for Tyonek to thrive.” SeaWorld’s location in Texas has nine beluga whales including young male calves, which NOAA said will be important for Tyonek’s social development.