Okay, I’ll admit, the above photo looks a little like this beluga whale thought that 3-year-old Veronica was a snack, but Veronica’s parents insist that their little girl bonded with Juno the Beluga at a recent visit to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.
While the “eating” photo was, according to Veronica Antov’s parents, was just a humorous addition to the fun photos of the two interacting, it does bring to mind a more recent photo of a lioness attempting to take a bite out of a little boy visiting the zoo. “In the lioness’ defense,” writes Laura T. Coffey of Today.com,“Jack WAS wearing a black-and-white striped jacket,” so maybe the animal confused the baby boy with a little zebra.
But Juno the beluga didn’t seem interested in Veronica as an afternoon snack. On the contrary, the girl’s parents “marveled over how much Juno wanted to shadow Veronica’s movements and play with her.”
Although this YouTube video portrays an aggressive side of Juno, snapping at children outside his tank, the beluga seemed to form a special bond with 3-year-old Veronica. The Suncomments that at one point, the whale “opened his mouth and appeared to plant a big kiss on his new friend.”
Mystic Aquarium states that Juno was born in July 2002, and came to the aquarium on a breeding loan from SeaWorld Orlando in January 2010. The beluga is 11 feet, 9 inches long, and weights in at 1,320 pounds. Juno can be identified by the gray circles under his eyes.
Below are some pictures of the whale bonding with his new little friend, taken by Veronica’s father Andrey Antov: