Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Park Board Approves Bylaw Banning Whales, Dolphins at Vancouver Aquarium

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Park Board Approves Bylaw Banning Whales, Dolphins at Vancouver Aquarium

Article excerpt

Bylaw to ban whales at Vancouver Aquarium passes

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VANCOUVER - A bylaw banning whales, dolphins and porpoises in captivity has been approved by Vancouver's park board.

The board voted 6 to 1 in favour of approving the bylaw at a meeting Monday night, while hundreds of protesters gathered outside to loudly voice their opposition to the ban.

The bylaw goes into effect immediately, preventing the Vancouver Aquarium from bringing new cetaceans to its facility in Stanley Park.

Park board commissioner Catherine Evans said the bylaw allows Vancouver to "catch up" in terms of the ethical treatment of animals.

"It's not only can you do this, but should you do this," she said. "And so, I think, yes we can keep cetaceans in captivity ... but I think we have reached the point now where we know that we shouldn't where there are other options."

But John Nightingale, the aquarium's president and CEO, said in a statement Monday night that the move will force rescuers to euthanize animals that can't be released back into the wild.

"There are no other long-term homes or options in Canada for rescued, non-releasable cetaceans," he said.

Debate over the future of whales, dolphins and porpoises at the facility has been simmering for several years, but heated up last fall when two belugas died at the aquarium after being exposed to an unidentified toxin.

A previous version of the bylaw limited which cetaceans the aquarium could acquire to those injured or in need of rehabilitation that could not be released back into the wild after treatment.

The aquarium currently has three cetaceans on display, including a false killer whale, a harbour porpoise and a Pacific white-sided dolphin. All three will be allowed to stay under the new rules, but the bylaw prevents them from being used in shows or performances.

The aquarium previously announced plans to phase out its cetacean program by 2029, but first wanted to bring in five new belugas for a exhibit that is currently under development. …

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