Belugas at a Japanese Aquarium Are Being Trained to Paint


Trainers at Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Japan are teaching three of the aquarium’s beloved belugas to paint for one of their main attractions this fall, the AFP reports. The all-white marine mammals have mastered abstract expressionism, holding custom-designed paintbrushes in their mouths while splattering paint on canvases dangled just above the surface of the water in their enclosure.

“The ideal is that a beluga will emulate what one of our customers has painted — of course trainers will guide the whale to do that,” a trainer told the AFP. “We’ll see how well they manage.”

The aquarium’s staff are training three belugas, two female and one male, to copy visitors’ paintings. The act will be part of a show that takes place once every weekday and twice each weekend day at the aquarium, which is located on the tiny island of Hakkeijima in Tokyo Bay and can be explored on Google Street View.

Though there are no plans yet to monetize the gentle whales’ budding art practices, it doesn’t seem like such an improbable turn of events. Paintings by rescued chimpanzees were recently auctioned off to raise money for chimp sanctuaries.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Photo via @_hachibee_/Twitter.)