(Delphinapterus leucas)




Facts about this animal

Adult Beluga are completely white, with no dorsal fin. The maximum length is about 4.5m with a weight of about 1'500 kg. They have a small head with a short distinct beak and prominent rounded melon. The free cervical vertebrae allows the head to nod and turn. They normally live in groups of about 10, but during migration as many as 10'000 have been recorded.

Did you know?
that the English "beluga" comes from the Russian vernacular name for the white whale, which is "belukha", "bel'ji" meaning "white"? At birth, beluga calves are generally dark grey. They gradually lighten with age, and upon reaching maturity, attain the white colour characteristic of adult belugas.


Name (Scientific) Delphinapterus leucas
Name (English) Beluga
Name (French) BĂ©louga
Name (German) Weisswal, Beluga
Name (Spanish) Ballena blanca
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Appendix II



Photo Copyright by
Ansgar Walk



Range Circumpolar areas in arctic and subarctic waters
Habitat Shallow coastal waters in summer and in winter near the ice edge
Wild population Approx. 150.000 (2000) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 22 reported to ISIS

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 55 of the IATA Live Animals Regulation should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Stan Shebs

Why do zoos keep this animal

Cetacean Sensation—The Value of Whales and Dolphins at Zoological Parks


Marine life parks have learned a great deal about whales and dolphins from ongoing research programmes. In the protected environment of a marine life park, scientists can examine aspects of cetacean biology that are difficult or impossible to study in the wild. Breeding and cutting edge artificial insemination programmes have dramatically increased our understanding of cetacean reproduction. Such studies may one day help to conserve species facing extinction such as Amazon River dolphins.


But that’s only part of the story. Through educational programmes and guest visitation, millions of children and adults have been given the rare opportunity to experience whales and dolphins in a unique way. There is an old African saying that goes "You will love with your heart what you see with your eyes." Marine life parks educate millions of people every year on the threats whales and dolphins face. Through zoological facilities, visitors have a chance to see, touch and view whales and dolphins. This connection bonds humans to these animals and inspires stewardship far more than simply seeing them in a book or on TV.


Of course the beluga is also an excellent ambassador for its ecosystem and may serve as a flagship species for campaigns or educational programmes raising awareness about Global Warming or dealing with threats to the marine environment such as Deadline - Das Meer will leben !), a joint effort of YaquPacha and WAZA.