Editor's note: Four former Vancouver park board commissioners have signed this letter addressed to the current park board, which on Thursday (July 31) voted to prohibit the breeding of whales and dolphins at the Vancouver Aquarium.
July 31, 2014.
As former Park Board Commissioners, we would like to give our support to ending the captivity and display of marine mammals, particularly cetaceans, in Vancouver Parks at the Vancouver Aquarium.
The display of whales and dolphins is a practice that has outlived its usefulness both for public education and for research. The most desperately needed research in these areas is to work on limiting the impact that humans have on the marine environment, research that cannot be done in captivity.
We feel that the aquarium tanks, regardless of current and future expansions, are inadequate for the humane support of dolphins, belugas or any other type of large marine mammal.
The “showing” of these animals in an artificial environment does not serve current educational practices. The environmental message that citizens, young and old, in Vancouver need to receive is that we need to care for the natural ocean habitat and its inhabitants. Marine mammals sequestered in tanks and performing in shows reinforce a 20th century idea that humans should have dominion over these animals. It is antiquated and harmful to the animals.
The scientific consensus of researchers outside of the Vancouver Aquarium is that these animals are much better off in their natural environment than in the miniscule tanks.
We urge the board to use its powers as landlord to the Vancouver Aquarium and as the elected voice of the people of Vancouver on these matters to phase out the keeping of marine mammals in captivity.
Parks Commissioner ’08-’11
Parks Commissioner ’93-’96
Parks Commissioner ’90-’93
Former Parks Board Chair and Commissioner ’02-’05
Added on August 5:
Park commissioner ('90-'96) and city councillor ('99-'05)