Update: The Vancouver Park Board has officially approved a bylaw amendment banning cetacean captivity within its parks, meaning that the Vancouver Aquarium can no longer house porpoises, beluga whales, orcas, or other dolphins. The board voted unanimously to approve the measure in March, and the decision was upheld at its May 15 meeting. While the amendment made its way through the appropriate legal channels, the aquarium campaigned hard to have it overturned. But as Park Board Commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung stated, “At the end of the day this isn’t a political decision, this is the right decision.”
Three cetaceans are still at the aquarium: a false orca, a harbour porpoise, and a Pacific white-sided dolphin. PETA will continue to work to have them and all other captive cetaceans everywhere retired to ocean sanctuaries.
The following was originally published on March 10, 2017:
In a unanimous vote, the Vancouver Park Board decided Thursday evening to amend the Parks Control Bylaw to prohibit cetacean captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium. Cetaceans are marine mammals, including dolphins, porpoises, and whales.
Park Board votes to ban cetacean captivity at Vancouver Aquarium https://t.co/GW49qDiKzF
— Global BC (@GlobalBC) March 10, 2017
With direction from the board, staff will now explore ways to comply with the amendment, which is set to be implemented by May of this year.
— Vancouver Park Board (@ParkBoard) March 10, 2017
The seven board members, who debated the issue for two nights, were provided with four options to choose from in order to address concerns regarding captive cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium: asking the city council to hold a referendum in the 2018 municipal election, accepting the aquarium’s February 20 announcement that it planned to introduce new belugas to the facility before ending cetacean captivity by 2029, amending the Parks Control Bylaw, or taking no action at all. Thankfully, the board undividedly agreed on the best option for cetaceans’ welfare.
The motion was introduced after the two remaining beluga whales at the Vancouver Aquarium died last November. Aurora, who was 29 years old, passed away only nine days after the death of her calf, 21-year-old Qila. Following their deaths, animal rights groups and activists called on the Vancouver Park Board to prohibit cetacean captivity in order to end the tragic and unnecessary suffering endured by animals like these belugas.
— CKNW (@CKNW) December 7, 2016
PETA released the following statement regarding the board’s decision:
In light of the staggering death toll at the Vancouver Aquarium—of the 10 cetaceans born at the facility, all 10 are dead—the Vancouver Park Board made the right decision to ban cetaceans. This decision will end a cycle of suffering and death for whales, dolphins, and porpoises in the facility’s cramped tanks. PETA is urging the aquarium to use the $100 million that it had planned to spend to expand its tanks to follow the example of the National Aquarium instead and move the surviving cetaceans to protected seaside sanctuaries. The Vancouver Aquarium must also retrieve the five beluga whales it shipped off to SeaWorld and the Georgia Aquarium and allow them to be retired to coastal sanctuaries.
What You Can Do
The park board’s decision is a step in the right direction, but captive marine animals still need your help. Please don’t visit marine abusement parks, zoos, or aquariums that keep ocean animals in captivity. Encourage your local aquarium to create more space for rehabilitating (and releasing) injured wildlife by refusing to breed or bring in any more animals.
You can also leaflet at local aquariums or marine parks, pressure officials to avoid subsidizing these facilities with taxpayer money, write letters to the editor of local publications, and support legislation that prohibits the capture or restricts the display of marine mammals.