The Vancouver Aquarium Will Be Closing Its Beluga Exhibit

Just a few months after two belugas – a mother and daughter pair — mysteriously died at the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia, the aquarium has announced it will be closing its beluga exhibit by 2029.

The Vancouver Aquarium has continued to find itself in the spotlight over keeping belugas, and has faced growing public opposition over the years. Its ongoing mistreatment of belugas and continued attempts to breed them landed the Vancouver Aquarium on In Defense of Animals’ (IDA) first annual list of the 10 Worst Tanks for Dolphins and Whales in North America  over the summer. It was also the subject of Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered – a documentary that exposed how it’s deceiving the public about what it’s really doing.

More recently, Aurora and Qila, a mother and her daughter, died mysteriously within days of each other in November, which led to more calls from the public to shut down the cetacean exhibits. The deaths also led to a motion being introduced by the Vancouver Park Board that would bring the issue of cetacean captivity to the public for a vote in the next civic election, although that’s been delayed for now.

While there are still other cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium, the end is finally in sight for belugas. The aquarium has announced that it will be significantly updating their habitat and bringing back a few non-breeding belugas that it already owns, who will be kept as part of an expanded Marine Mammal Research Program, but by the end of 2029 the program will end and so will keeping belugas on display.

Officials said in a statement that more research will be conducted that is aimed at benefiting wild populations in the Arctic and St. Lawrence Estuary.

Although the value of its previous research has been called into question, the aquarium added that the expanded habitat will also help support its role as the only Marine Mammal Rescue Center in Canada, which has a team of first responders ready to help sick, stranded and injured marine mammals in need of assistance.

While the end is still a few years away, it’s a promising sign that more facilities like this will continue to end their captive cetacean exhibits. Hopefully the Vancouver Aquarium will continue to shift its work towards the rescue, rehabilitation and release of whales and dolphins who need help, and the public will continue to push for a ban that will stop the Vancouver Aquarium from keeping, or breeding, any others in the future.

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: Thinkstock

134 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Carl R
Carl R1 years ago

Thanks!!!!

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Christian M
Christian Menges1 years ago

But 2029 is to long to wait

:(((((((((

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Christian M
Christian Menges1 years ago

Great news

:))))))

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Melania P
Melania P1 years ago

We, the people, have the power!! You think this would have been possible without millions of signatures, public protests, etc.? Such a shame it is until 2019 but this is a start

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Carl R
Carl R1 years ago

thanks!!!

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Roberto M
Roberto MARINI1 years ago

thanks for sharing

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Mona P
Mona Pietsch1 years ago

petition signed

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H1 years ago

"closing its beluga exhibit by 2029." What's the rush? Seriously. Are they waiting so they can kill them all off?

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Lola P
Lola P1 years ago

2029? What's the wait for?

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