We’ve all been rooting for the latest resident of the River Thames recently: Benny the plucky beluga whale.
First spotted off Gravesend in Kent three weeks ago, experts think the white marine mammal has been forced more than 1,000 miles from its usual Arctic habitat because of strong storms.
Crowds have flocked from near and far to catch a glimpse of Benny – and he’s become something of a local celebrity.
But some residents might be wondering if he’s outstayed his welcome now that the local council has been forced to cancel its planned fireworks display so they don’t disturb the whale.
Around 15,000 people were expected to gather in Gravesend on 2 November for the annual bonfire night celebrations, which sees fireworks set off from a barge on the river, but council officials say this has been postponed until Benny’s left the area.
“Following advice from the Port of London Authority, we have decided to postpone the Gravesham Fireworks this year,” said David Turner, the leader of Gravesham borough council.
“While we are very disappointed at having to postpone the fireworks, we understand the need to keep Benny safe must take priority. Every effort will be made to reschedule this hugely popular event, but a decision cannot be made now as no-one knows how long Benny will remain in residence here.
“While we understand this is also disappointing to the thousands of residents and visitors who enjoy our fantastic fireworks display every year, we have to ensure our special visitor is kept safe and well.
“We have considered alternative sites, but there is not a big enough area we can use for the 15,000 people that attend our fireworks display. Also, the advice given to us is that we ‘should not re-arrange the fireworks to take place near the river in the Gravesend area’, as this may still disturb Benny.
“Keeping Benny safe has to be our priority while he visits us here in Gravesend, thousands of miles from his usual Arctic habitat. I’m sure everyone, while disappointed by this postponement of the fireworks, will understand.”
Residents are also being asked to think twice about holding private firework displays near the river in Gravesend.
Ahhhh! We can’t stay mad at you Benny, you briny scamp!
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