Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vancouver Aquarium Seeks Judicial Review in Fight against Cetacean Bylaws

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vancouver Aquarium Seeks Judicial Review in Fight against Cetacean Bylaws

Article excerpt

Vancouver Aquarium takes park board to court

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VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Aquarium has launched a legal challenge over the city park board's attempt to prohibit the breeding of whales, dolphins and porpoises at the popular tourist attraction.

The aquarium's request for a judicial review, filed Wednesday, is the latest development in an ongoing and highly contentious debate in the city over the ethics of keeping cetaceans in captivity.

The board passed a motion last month that, among other things, would prohibit the breeding of cetaceans in Vancouver parks unless the animals are considered a threatened species. The board stopped short of banning captive cetaceans altogether, which some critics had hoped for.

The aquarium is located in Stanley Park, which is overseen by the board.

Aquarium president John Nightingale said the facility is asking the court to overturn the motion because, it argues in its legal challenge, the park board acted outside its jurisdiction.

"The aquarium is exercising its legal right to challenge the validity of those resolutions in court," he said. "In short, we believe that caring for animals in the aquarium should be left to the experts."

Nightingale also accused the park board of passing the motion for political reasons.

"Frankly, we resent being turned into a political football," he said.

Last month's vote followed a special meeting in which the park board heard the opinions of 133 people on whether the animals should stay in the aquarium.

Nightingale said the aquarium has never intentionally bred the cetaceans, but when possible, it keeps the animals in mixed-sex groups to simulate how they would live in nature.

He said forcing the creatures to avoid breeding could require the aquarium to segregate the creatures by sex, which would be harmful because cetaceans are highly social.

"That would be an inhumane thing to do," said Nightingale.

He said sterilizing the animals would not be an option because the procedure could be dangerous for the creatures. …

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