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Vancouver Aquarium Capitulates: No More Captive Dolphins or Whales

| Mark J. Palmer
Topics: belugas, Captivity Industry

 The Vancouver Aquarium, hit by public opposition to the keeping of dolphins and whales in captivity, and facing a decision by the Vancouver Parks Board to end such captivity (a decision Vancouver Aquarium is challenging in court) has at last announced a “new day” for the facility – no more whales and dolphins in captivity.

Dozens of dolphins and small whales have died at the Vancouver Aquarium.

A last lone Pacific white-sided dolphin remains in the facility after a huge die-off of beluga whales and other dolphins over the past couple of years, while the aquarium leadership staunchly maintained their intent to bring in more cetaceans for public shows and viewing.  The dolphin cannot be released due to having only partial flippers, but the aquarium might move her to a facility with other dolphins as companions.

The lawsuit continues, with a decision expected shortly from the judge in the Vancouver Supreme Court.  The aquarium is challenging the decision of the Parks Board in telling the aquarium how to manage its business.  

Environmentalists celebrated the decision, having worked for decades to end the cruelty of captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Annelise Sorg, of No Whales in Captivity, a leader of the local effort, stated: “This mayor victory will help put more pressure on Canadian Senators who are right now considering enacting a Senate Bill to ban cetacean captivity in Canada.  After the last remaining dolphin is gone from the Vancouver Aquarium, Marineland in Ontario will be the only facility left in this nation holding cetaceans.  The writing is on the wall and today's victory is a huge step towards our goal to end the war on whales in Canada."

The International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) of Earth Island Institute also celebrated the decision.  IMMP had worked with No Whales in Captivity to publicize the issues and circulate a letter for sign-ons by NGOs and scientists from around the world against the aquarium continuing to keep any cetaceans in captivity.  

The persistent efforts of the local activists were the key to success against the Vancouver Aquarium, knowing that the effort would take many years.

Our thanks to them and to all who wrote letters and signed petitions to the Vancouver leadership in opposition to keeping cetaceans in captivity.

Their victory is a positive and outstanding example for the rest of the world.  No More Whales in Captivity, indeed!


Photo credit the Canadian Press.