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A clip showing an animal trainer climbing on to the back of a beluga whale has been slammed by animal-lovers.
The clip shows a male aquarium worker getting onto the whale and riding him in the water before standing up and toppling into the water.
Animal-lovers have responded furiously to the video after it was shared on Chinese social media site Weibo, with many calling for a boycott of live animal performances such as these.
But the aquarium where the clip was filmed has spoken to local media to say that its workers and animals often have these interactions as part of their shows and that they are acting legitimately and legally.
The clip was uploaded by a worker at the Luoyuanwan Sea World in Fuzhou, Fujian province, but ended up going viral when it was shared by an animal welfare support account that slammed the aquarium for how it treated the whale, the Daily Mail reports.
Captioning the clip, the account wrote: "[He] often flaunts himself standing on top of the beluga whales by posting videos on a live-streaming platform.
"[The videos] have extremely terrible social impact and [we] hope relevant departments pay close attention."
Others then commented on the post condemning aquariums and animal shows, with one person writing: "Whales and dolphins are supposed to live in the sea but are now confined in small prisons. They are forced to perform and work for aquariums every day. It's all cruelty and torture!"
Someone else added: "Reject animal performance! This is imprisonment and cruelty towards animals!"
Following the backlash, a spokesperson from the facility has said their practices are legal.
Speaking to Pear Video, a spokesperson from the aquarium said: "We do have performances with dolphins and beluga whales. They are interactive.
"[Trainers] might dance with them under the water or stand on top of them to demonstrate the strength [of the animals].
"We are a legit company and our animal keeping is legal."
Animal charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has long called for the banning of aquariums and marine mammal theme parks.
On its site, PETA says they are 'part of a billion-dollar industry built on the suffering of intelligent social beings who are denied everything that's natural and important to them'.
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