Video: Aquarium CEO likens transfer of Bjossa to trading Wayne Gretzky

Last weekend, Vancouver Aquarium CEO John Nightingale said that his facility tried without success to buy an orca in the late 1990s.

This came after Bjossa's partner, Finna, died in 1997.

"When the male killer whale died, we spent a year trying to find a companion for Bjossa, and we couldn't anywhere in the world," Nightingale said at a July 26 special park board meeting on captivity of cetaceans. "We would have tried to buy one if we could."

The comment arose in a question-and-answer session with Vision Vancouver commissioner Aaron Japser. (See video above.)

Nightingale said that Russians weren't capturing wild orcas at that time, so there weren't any killer whales available.

That was aside from finding one that met the park board's criteria that no whales captured from the wild could be imported into Stanley Park.

Nightingale acknowledged that Vancouverites remain opposed to whales from the wild being brought to the aquarium.

"They don't feel any more positive about going out and capturing live cetaceans today than they did then," he said.

Because orcas are a "social species", Nightingale said that the aquarium had no alternative but to transfer Bjossa to another facility because she was left alone.

"It was kind of like trading away Wayne Gretzky," NIghtingale said.

Bjossa died at SeaWorld in San Diego in 2001.

Comments (2) Add New Comment
Anais Anthony
I watched the CBC news coverage of the meeting to discuss the captive marine mammals. For Mr. Nightingale to contradict himself when he stated that we, the public, tend to anthropomorphise these animals but worrying about the lack of space they endure, as he states they are not suffering but enjoy "three squares a day, dental and medical care." Now who is anthropomorphising? He supports this practice as it is his livelihood, "the bottom line."
These animals are not free, live in chemical water, and are subjected to undue stress. It is NOT in the best interests of the animals.
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Ian Boothby
The water is filtered. Do you have proof they are under stress Anais? The Park Board's Constance Barnes is now comparing the animals to American slaves so when it comes to anthropomorphizing, she wins that one in a very offensive way. At least her suggestion to euthanize the captive animals seems to be off the table for now.
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