Atlanta | Dan Mathews | News | PETA

PETA VP Dan Mathews Blasts Atlanta Pride for Circuit Party at Aquarium

Out PETA Senior Vice President Dan Mathews was in Atlanta during the recent Pride celebrations and was troubled by a circuit party he heard about planned for the Georgia Aquarium:

I had never been inside an aquarium before--just outside as a demonstrator. I only learned of this gala when I arrived from Virginia to work PETA's booth at the gay pride festival in Piedmont Park. I found it ironic that my seemingly sophisticated subculture would celebrate freedom in a building that celebrates captivity.

MathewsMathews decided to investigate the party rather than protest it from outside, and was particularly concerned about the effect of ear-splitting dance music on the aquarium's beluga whales (particularly a 16-year-old named Beethoven, below):

Like gays, belugas are very social beings who in nature hang out in large, often exclusively same-sex groups called "pods." They are Arctic animals who travel thousands of miles each year in the wild, guided by an intricate sonar system centered in what looks like a bump on their forehead. They make high-pitched squeaks and whistles that bounce off the ocean floor, the polar ice caps and the coast to help them migrate, forage, breed and socialize.

This sonar system, which combines all their key senses, is thwarted in the relatively tiny aquarium tanks, and the trend in recent years of loud parties designed not for education but for extra profit has further devastated the lives and psyches of these uniquely gifted animals. The UN may have banned the torture of prisoners with music, but it is routinely practiced at the Georgia Aquarium.

BeethovenThe aquarium's guide, who was stationed at the tank to answer questions, said that loud music is especially bothersome to the whales:

"Especially the males―as soon as the music starts pounding, they go nuts and start attacking the harbor seals in the tanks. We had Jazz Fridays this summer, and I can't say many of the animals in any of the exhibits were fans. When the music starts, they get to fighting."

Mathews says he hopes the organizers will choose a more humane venue next year.

I wonder if Beluga whales have a tolerance for more mellow types of music? Mathews' post made me think of the video I featured several weeks ago of the Beluga whale in Mystic, Connecticut being serenaded by a Mexican mariachi band. That particular whale seemed more fascinated than upset.

A video of Beethoven the Beluga whale, AFTER THE JUMP...

Party Out of Bounds [huff post]

(image justin bieber with beethoven, the beluga whale referenced in mathews' post)

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. I'm just surprised that so many humans think their judgment about what is loud (or not)is sufficient to determine what too is loud or appropriate for an animal. I have no idea at what decibel level a beluga may decide a noise is disturbing, but I do know enough to know that I cannot make this determination since I'm not an f'ing beluga.

    Posted by: BMF | Oct 12, 2011 7:04:49 PM

  2. The best part was when they let over-heated circuit queens hop into the tanks to cool off. That and the free lines of coke they let party go-ers snort off the backs of penguins strapped on top of slow-moving sea turtles...

    Are you kidding me with this? I was there for four hours, both in the ballroom and in the main aquarium area. Folks not from Atlanta probably can't appreciate how immensely huge these tanks are and how not loud the music was. I didn't have to scream to anyone to be heard.

    I can only imagine that the marine animals appreciated the break from toddlers and poorly-behaved children beating on the glass.

    I don't know enough about PETA to launch a public attack against them in the Huffington Post, like this individual does without seeking quotes from Atlanta Pride of the Georgia Aquarium, but I think Atlanta Pride does a lot of good and that the Georgia Aquarium does a lot of good (like saving Belugas from amusement parks -,2933,239545,00.html.

    I can't speak Beluga to find out if they like being in captivity, but I'm sure they are happy about not being whaled, being fed regularly in non-polluted waters and getting free health care.

    Posted by: Joshua | Oct 12, 2011 7:22:02 PM

  3. Hello All

    I was the headlining DJ for this event.

    Someone who I believe was this Dan Matthews came to the DJ booth (without introduction but wearing plenty of attitude) and asked me if I were informed of Decibel Levels (I thought he was talking about a loud, obnoxious drag performer but I digress). It is also interesting to note that he had no instruments by which to measure this alleged offensive volume AND was the ONLY person of all 4700 people in attendance to TRY to complain.

    I instructed this rude, snide, poorly dressed individual to take his questions to the audio engineers stationed underneath the area where my DJ booth was created. I now sincerely doubt he did as I asked.


    1) In the OCEAN'S BALLROOM, which actually feature the Belugas as well as Whale Sharks, etc, DJ Jay McCracken's volume level was meticulously controlled by a team of sound engineers fully aware of safe, nondisruptive levels for events such as ours.

    2) The Main Hall, which is where I spun, has no view or shared any visible aquarium walls. Imagine the foyer in a theater where all movies (or in this case, exhibits) let out into a food court or common area. The Main Hall is (from my perspective) safely removed from crucial tanks and exhibits. The volume in the main hall was conversational at best. As a club DJ, I know levels. The level inside the main hall was appropriate for what this event was... a COCKTAIL fundraiser. My volume was controlled for me. I could not get BOOM BOOM loud if I wanted to.

    If this is what Dan considers a "CIRCUIT PARTY"... honey, he needs to get out more, use an altoid before getting out of the car, and for god sakes, ditch the hideous shirt he was wearing last friday night....

    (you are embarrassing your cause)

    P.S. If the Belugas were sooo disturbed by the music, why were they having sex during the party (there is apparently video out there)...

    P.P.S. Instead of fabricating the victimization of Marine life, why not plan your PETA booth better at Pride next time (your "PIG" was two booths down from the Gay Gun Rights Advocates for a good while the next day at the festival).... Focus Dan, Focus.

    Posted by: DJ COREY CRAIG | Oct 12, 2011 7:26:32 PM

  4. The image of the "trainer" is a photo of Justin Bieber posing with a whale..just saying.

    Posted by: John R W | Oct 12, 2011 8:59:48 PM

  5. You have got to be kidding me? Get a grip people. In addition to the comments about difficulty of transmitting sound from air to water, the tanks are insulated by at least 2 feet of pressed glass. Plus, when I talked to the person in the ballroom, she said that the volume was limited to be sure that the animals did not get disturbed by the sound. So, it sounds like the aquarium folks were well tuned into the needs of the animals in their care. Additionally, I watched the beluga whales, and they seemed to be energized by all the people around and completely ignored the harbor seals. This is an example of extremists turning the slightest thing into a major issue. PETA should focus on the real issues of animal abuse not animals being exposed to music they don't like.

    Finally, to call it a circuit party is a stretch. It was more like a giant cocktail party. I encourage more to attend.

    Posted by: dj | Oct 12, 2011 11:22:10 PM

  6. Any wrongs PETA has done is a raindrop compared to an ocean of wrongs done by the animal exploitation industries.

    Posted by: fern | Oct 12, 2011 11:30:17 PM

  7. @Darrell

    The trainer looks like Justin Bieber...

    Posted by: NovaNardis | Oct 13, 2011 12:57:03 AM

  8. To everyone who is commenting in this thread, can you please comment on the main article in Huff Post? The readers need to get the whole story and the Huff Post needs to be wary of running columns for this idiot in the future. Thanks.

    Posted by: Drew | Oct 13, 2011 1:50:49 AM

  9. I didn't go to that. It was nothing but an elitist party full of the richest Atlanta gays. I guess enjoying cocktails on the balconies of their multi-million dollar penthouses wasn't enough.

    Posted by: Corey Lynxx | Oct 13, 2011 8:54:41 AM

  10. I was there, it was NOT a circuit party, it was exactly what has been described by the other Atlantans here: a cocktail party that raises money for Atlanta Pride. Furthermore, Georgia Aquarium was designed as an event space, it is a state-of-the-art facility. PETA would object to any aquarium, and everyone gets that. But to call this event an animal-torturing circuit party is an hysterical, manipulative lie.

    Posted by: Atlanta Guy | Oct 13, 2011 8:57:04 AM

  11. First of all, Mathews didn't call it a "circuit party," this Towleroad post did.

    Secondly, anyone who wants an idea of how loud it was can click on the video in this story:

    The room featured in the video leads to all the exhibits, and the music pounded through all of them, plus there was a separate dj in the main room where the belugas are.

    Posted by: KT | Oct 13, 2011 5:19:11 PM

  12. « 1 2

Post a comment


« «Harvard Wrestling Team Comes Out as LGBT Allies for National Coming Out Day« «