B.C. residents divided on whales in captivity, poll shows

With a public debate underway in the city over whales and dolphins in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium, a new poll shows that people across the province are paying attention to the issue.

Insights West conducted an online survey of 769 adults in B.C., and found that 54 percent are watching these discussions closely. This figure is even higher in the Lower Mainland, where 58 percent of respondents said they are following the issue closely.

Forty-two percent of respondents agreed with the statement "Whale programs should be phased out", and 40 percent sided with the statement "Whale programs should continue", while 18 percent said they were not sure.

Fifty-five percent believe that "Animals in captivity suffer", but 62 percent agree with the statement "Zoos and aquariums are still needed".

“Most British Columbians tend to look at captivity as something that can advance research, and just one-in-five believe that zoos and aquariums are no longer needed,” Mario Canseco, vice president for public affairs at Insights West, said in a news release. “However, almost half believe that captivity hinders animals, and this is one of the prevailing feelings that translates into support for phasing out whale programs.”

The poll asked 769 adults for their views on whales and dolphins in captivity.
Insights West

Insights West also asked respondents for their opinions on holding a plebiscite on cetacean captivity. In the Lower Mainland, where the issue is most relevant, 47 percent said it was a good idea, compared to 39 percent who felt it was a bad idea. Thirteen percent were not sure.

If such a plebiscite were held in their municipality, 45 percent of Lower Mainland respondents would likely vote "yes" on a ban on cetacean captivity, while 43 percent are leaning toward "no". Five percent said they wouldn't vote, and eight percent were undecided.

The poll, conducted from May 22 to 28, has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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