Vancouver Aquarium can keep cetaceans, with breeding restrictions
Read this August 1 story from CBC.ca 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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