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In case you haven't heard yet, there's a beluga whale living in the Thames River in England. It has been lovingly named Benny, and, at least for right now, it's not going away any time soon.

But if the whale does need to be evacuated, experts who have been watching the whale have a plan — and you might have heard of it before.


As the Telegraph reports, experts are assuming that Benny will be fine until the spring in the Thames. But if he does need to be rescued in the spring or he becomes ill between now and then, there's a possibility he could be lifted out of the water and transported.

This is exactly what happened to Keiko, the whale who starred in "Free Willy," when it was transported to a sanctuary in Iceland in 2002.

U.S. Department of Defense

This process would involve using a giant wet sling to move Benny from the river to an aquarium for a short time, and then from the aquarium to a sanctuary off the coast of Iceland. Unlike an aquarium, this sanctuary is just over 345,000 square feet of open water — a true sanctuary for a whale, so it would be a safe place for the beluga to go.

Unfortunately, Keiko the whale never properly adjusted to the sanctuary and died only a year after being moved.

Keiko, of "Free Willy" fame. (Shutterstock)

According to NBC News, Keiko had lived almost his entire life in captivity prior to being airlifted to the sanctuary, though, which would explain why the whale would have a particularly hard time adapting.

Luckily, Benny has always lived in the wild (Thames River or not), so adapting would probably be an easier process for the beluga.

And, as an added bonus, the Telegraph reports that there are already two other beluga whales in the sanctuary in Iceland, so Benny wouldn't be the only one of his species there.

For now, though, experts will continue to monitor Benny's well-being to make sure he's not showing signs of extreme stress, illness (this is a particular concern as the Thames is not especially clean), or other issues. If he seems happy and healthy, he should be OK in the river until temperatures start to rise in the spring months.

Add your name right now to make a difference for dolphins, whales and other marine mammals with Oceana.

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