Success! The Vancouver Aquarium Will No Longer Keep Whales and Dolphins in Captivity

Animal advocates are celebrating another victory for whales and dolphins: Vancouver Aquarium has announced that it’s giving up its fight to keep them in captivity.

The announcement follows a string of recent deaths that have intensified the debate surrounding captive cetaceans there. In November 2016, the two remaining belugas, Aurora and her calf Qila, died within days of each other.

The Vancouver Aquarium has continued to find itself in the spotlight for its stance on keeping cetaceans in captivity, and has faced growing public opposition over the years. Its ongoing mistreatment of belugas and continued attempts to breed them landed it on a list of the 10 Worst Tanks for Dolphins and Whales in North America last year.

In 2014, the Vancouver Park Board voted to ban breeding whales and dolphins, and thousands of people spoke up encouraging it to keep the ban in place – more than 63,000 people signed a Care2 petition asking it not to reverse the ban.

Last year, the aquarium announced plans to phase out its beluga program by 2029, but first wanted to bring in five new belugas. Plans to bring in more, however, were thwarted by the Vancouver Park Board last year when it voted to stop the aquarium from bringing in any new whales and dolphins.

Although that vote is being challenged, the aquarium has changed its tune dramatically and announced that it will no longer keep any whales and dolphins in captivity. The aquarium said in a statement, 
”The ongoing discussions about whales and dolphins in our care have been a distraction from real threats to the ocean and have sidelined the critical work we lead. We aim to inspire people in every corner of the planet to participate in creating healthy oceans, and it’s time to get on with it.”

The decision is being welcomed as a major victory towards ending cetacean captivity by animal advocates and the park board.

“We are pleased that the Aquarium, with this decision, has acknowledged and recognized what we as Commissioners observed in passionate public debates on this issue over the last years,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “The public told us they believed the continuing importation and display of these intelligent and sociable mammals was unethical and incompatible with evolving public opinion and we amended our bylaws accordingly. We look forward to working with the Vancouver Aquarium as it intensifies its focus on Ocean Wise research and conservation.”

Since the park board voted against bringing any more in, two more of the aquarium’s three cetaceans have died. This past June, a harbour porpoise named Daisy died, and then Chester, a false killer whale, died this past November leaving only Helen, a pacific white-sided dolphin, at the aquarium whose fate has yet to be decided.

While its ending public displays, the aquarium said it will continue with its rescue and rehabilitation work with the aim of releasing any whales and dolphins it aids back into the wild, and will work to find suitable homes for any who aren’t able to be released.

This change now leaves ever-troubled Marineland as the only facility in Canada keeping captive cetaceans, but hopefully ongoing public pressure will empty the tanks there too.

“We are delighted to hear that Vancouver Aquarium will no longer display whales and dolphins. This surprising but welcome decision is another nail in the coffin for the captivity industry and comes after a long battle with the City’s Park Board and animal welfare advocates who successfully argued that public opinion had shifted on the issue of keeping whales and dolphins in tanks,” said Rob Lott, Policy Manager for Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

For more on efforts to retire whales and dolphins who are currently in captivity to sea sanctuaries, check out the Whale Sanctuary Project and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

Photo credit: Peter M Graham/Flickr

123 comments

Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Veerle D
Veerle D5 months ago

Thanks!

SEND
Ruth R
Ruth R5 months ago

Thank You.

SEND
denise B
denise B5 months ago

VANCOUVER AQUARIUM BIG "DECISION MAKERS/Directors
Barbara Atkinson

Christian Baxter

Karam Bayrakal

Rizwan Gehlen (Treasurer)

Janet Landucci

James Lyman

Marian MacFarlane

Shelley-Mae Mitchell

Barbara Meens Thistle

Derral Moriyama (Vice-Chair & Secretary)

Randy Pratt (Chair)

David Rebak

TJ Schmaltz

Scott Shepherd

Dixie Sullivan

John Webster AND MANY MORE.

Thank you Vancouver Aquarium for FINALLY SEEINGTHE LIGHT and announcing that YOU are giving up YOUR fight to keep whales and dolphins in captivity.

WHEN IS THIS COMING INTO EFFECT???????????????? I am sure that one of you listed above could answer this question.

THANK YOU JANELLE AND YOUR SUPPORTERS FOR SPEAKING FOR THE VOICELESS.

PEOPLE AT LARGE - In the meantime BOYCOTT GREEDY MARINELAND AS THEY ARE THE ONLY "BLOODY ENTERTAINMENT" LEFT IN CANADA ABUSING AND TORTURING WHALES and DOLPHINS IN CAPTIVITY IN TINY CEMENT BOWLS.

BOYCOTT MARINELAND - BOYCOTT THOSE CRUEL GREEDY "HIGH DECISION MAKERS" WHO ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN FATTENING-UP THEIR BLOODY BANK ACCOUNTS. LET'S WATCH MARINELAND GO UNDER :)

SEND
Jordan A
Jordan A5 months ago

Let’s protect the ocean and all of it’s ocean wildlife all around the world and Includes whales dolphins sharks turtle seals and sea lions and other ocean wildlife

SEND
Sara C
Sara C5 months ago

Wonderful!

SEND
Nancy BIELECKIE
Nancy BIELECKIE5 months ago

This is great news! I hope that more follow suit and captivity of creatures such as this becomes a thing of the past. I am a firm believer in the five animal freedoms and feel they should become law for any captive animal.

SEND
Ben O
Ben O5 months ago

Finally! BTW; -It's been 50 years since I spent a few days in Vancouver...

SEND
Tammy Andrews
Tammy Andrews6 months ago

What happens with the poor dolphin still there...can move to a sanctuary or at least with some other dolphins so not alone?

SEND