Common Sense Canadian

Vancouver Aquarium can keep cetaceans, with breeding restrictions

PostedAugust 1, 2014 by in Western Canada
Vancouver Aquarium can keep cetaceans, with breeding restrictions

Beluga whales in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium

Read this August 1 story from on the Vancouver Parks Board decision allowing the Aquarium to keep cetaceans in captivity, with restrictions on breeding.

The Vancouver Park Board voted unanimously to allow the aquarium to keep cetaceans in captivity at a special meeting Thursday night, but ordered an end to the breeding of most whales and dolphins.

The board has directed its staff to bring forward an amendment to the park bylaw that would prohibit the breeding of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Vancouver parks unless they are a threatened species.

Park board chair Aaron Jasper says it wasn’t an easy decision.

“Every time we came back to the breeding program, we just felt that’s a program that might serve other purposes, but we were not convinced that it served the purpose of conservation, rescue rehabilitation or research. So that’s where we drew the line in the sand,” he said.

The board has also ordered the establishment of an oversight committee consisting of animal welfare experts to ensure the safety and well-being of cetaceans in captivity.

But it stopped short of demanding the aquarium phase out its whale and dolphin program. However it did ask aquarium and park staff to investigate alternatives to the exhibition of cetaceans.

Vancouver Aquarium president John Nightingale said the facility does not run a formal breeding program and preventing the animals from breeding on their own will be difficult.

“Healthy animals sometimes mate. So keeping them apart or using artificial contraceptives or whatever method the park board is going to mandate is not natural, so it’s actually kind of animal cruelty,” he said.

The park board is also calling on the aquarium to undertake a study “using all available scientific data” to determine if cetacean well-being is possible in the aquarium’s whale pools.



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    John Fellowes

    I remember in the 80’s all the emotion about the bears in captivity and the result was no more bears. At the same time we built a chain link fence around our garbage dump to keep the bears out.. They tore the fence apart and moved in. About 30 of them, and as long as they were fed they didn’t want to leave. We eventually has to shoot them so we could use the dump again. I’m not sure the whales and dolphins are much different.


    This is, I hope, the beginning of the end of the Vancouver Aquarium’s whale and dolphin captivity program. Banning whale and dolphin captivity will be the next goal.


      Good luck with “banning” the breeding ‘program”

      About 25 years ago I was working in the Aquarium after regular visiting hours. We were cleaning the underwater viewing area glass windows as well as the carpet and seating. It was dark and the Killer Whale “tank” was also dark.
      At about 11pm we heard a God awful BOOM against the glass that shook the building and lots of thrashing and banging………
      When one of the Aquarium staff turned on the tank lights I saw the biggest penis I ever want to see.
      The male whale was chasing the female all over Hell’s half acre and trying his dambest to “breed”.
      Shall the Vancouver Park’s Board have a meeting to design ‘whale sized” condoms?

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