Today, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) gave the Aquarium des Iles permission to release two six-month-old harp seal pups who were slated for death on September 15.
“This achievement can be attributed to public pressure from a viral Care2 petition launched by Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre, Salt Spring Island, BC that garnered more than 140,000 signatures in less than two weeks; by mass emails of protest from the public to the Aquarium and to Fisheries & Oceans; through our postings on dozens of environmental and animal welfare websites; intense lobbying led by Cheryl Fink of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW); and behind the scenes support by the Brigitte Bardot Foundation,” said Jackie Ballerone, Director of the IWNCC in a statement.
The two pups, Zak and Mika, were taken from the wild by the DFO this spring and accepted by the aquarium for display, even though aquarium officials knew they would be senselessly killed at the end of the tourist season.
The practice of taking seal pups has been going on for decades with releases at the end of the season, but for some unknown reason, the DFO is suddenly arguing 25 years later that pups could contaminate wild seals and other wild animals. They advised the aquarium to destroy the seals.
After hearing about their plight from an employee at the aquarium who reached out to organizations for help to save the pups, the IWNCC stepped up and set up a Care2 petition campaigning for their release.
As pressure mounted from the public and a solution was offered by IFAW, the aquarium found itself in even more hot water after essentially issuing a ransom note announcing that pups would be spared, but only if animal advocates were willing to pay $73,000 for their care before September 21.
“The sudden and unexpected decision by the Department of Fisheries & Oceans to allow the seals to be released back into the wild brought a collective sigh of relief from everyone who has been working so hard to save the lives of these two innocents,” said Ballerone.
With the help of almost 140,000 Care2 members who signed the petition, these seals will be free!
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