REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA (care2.com) - Animal advocates are celebrating a major victory for captive whales and dolphins following an announcement that the Vancouver Park Board voted unanimously to ban keeping them on display at the Vancouver Aquarium.
The Vancouver Aquarium has continued to find itself at the center of debates surrounding cetacean captivity. Its ongoing mistreatment of belugas and continued attempts to breed them landed it on In Defense of Animals’ (IDA) first annual list of the 10 Worst Tanks for Dolphins and Whales in North America over the summer. It was also the subject of Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered – a recent documentary that exposed how it’s deceiving the public about its practices.
Following the recent deaths of mother and daughter belugas, Aurora and Qila, who died mysteriously within days of each other in November, the issue spurred debate about whether the aquarium’s cetacean exhibits should be shut down.
The aquarium had recently announced it would be closing its beluga exhibit by 2029, but would be bringing five non-breeding belugas back who are currently on loan to other marine parks until then.
Now, it looks like those belugas may never return. While the Vancouver Park Board was considering a measure that would have potentially brought this issue to voters in the next civic election, members took immediate action to bring cetacean captivity to an end.
After two nights of public meetings, the Vancouver Park Board voted to ban the import and display of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Vancouver. An amendment that will change the current bylaw to make this official is now being considered, and it could go into effect as soon as mid-May.
“My fellow Commissioners and I unanimously supported changing the bylaw to prohibit the display of cetaceans at the Aquarium,” said Park Boar Chair Michael Wiebe. “This is a historic decision following many years of debate about cetaceans in Vancouver.
The aquarium still has three cetaceans in its care, including Helen, a Pacific white-sided dolphin, Daisy, a harbor porpoise and Chester, a false killer whale, whose fate hasn’t been decided yet. The proposed bylaw may allow them to stay for the remainder of their lives, or require their removal, but they are now the last the aquarium will ever have.
Sarah Kirby-Yung, a commissioner who formerly worked as the aquarium’s spokeswoman, said it became clear after public meetings and receiving thousands of comments on cetacean captivity that the vote was the “the will of Vancouverites.”
More than 80,000 Care2 members signed a petition against Vancouver Aquarium’s cetacean breeding program. The petition was part of a broad campaign to put pressure on Vancouver, and it worked.
“Our job is to listen to the public,” Kirby-Yung told the Globe and Mail. “This is an issue where public sentiment has been changing and, progressively, people have been feeling more and more uncomfortable.”
Hopefully people will keep the pressure on and more facilities will soon follow the lead of those that are closing their exhibits and ending the confinement of these highly intelligent and social animals for nothing more than our profit and entertainment.
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Updated 12 days ago Article ID# 4085149