In an era before the common exhibition of animals in zoos and circuses, the arrival of "two living white whales" in lower Manhattan was a noteworthy event. While other natural history museums of the period tried to present animals with images of their natural habitats and avoided mention of their capture, the American Museum often stressed the opposite. The animals themselves, as well as their natural habitats and habits, frequently paled in comparison to Barnum's heroic tales of acquisition. In the case of the beluga whales, the exhibit highlighted the elaborate process of their capture and transportation to New York. Barnum spurred attendance with hints, born out by past experience, that the whales might not survive for long in captivity.
BARNUM'S AMERICAN MUSEUM
. . . . TWO LIVING WHITE WHALES
weighing TWENTY THOUSANDS POUNDS per registers
Hudson River Railroad Co.,
after several months of immense labor and at an expense of
NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS,
were captured and brought to this city from the coast of Labrador and are
now disporting in that MINATURE OCEAN,
the MAMMOTH WHALE TANK,
the only specimen to be seen alive.
NOW IS THE TIME
to see these wonders as
THEIR LIVES ARE UNCERTAIN,
seven of the same species having died while being exhibited at this
GEORGE, the great WHALE CAPTURER, will enter
the WHALE TANK every day at 10 3/4 A.M., 2 1/4 and 7 3/4 P. M.
Source: New York Herald July 2, 1965