Former park commissioners: Cetacean captivity at Vancouver Aquarium has outlived its usefulness

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      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.


      Stuart Mackinnon,
      Parks Commissioner ’08-’11

      Donna Morgan
      Parks Commissioner ’93-’96

      Dermot Foley
      Parks Commissioner ’90-’93

      Anita Romaniuk
      Former Parks Board Chair and Commissioner ’02-’05

      Added on August 5:

      Tim Louis
      Park commissioner ('90-'96) and city councillor ('99-'05)



      Lack of Vision

      Aug 1, 2014 at 5:49pm

      Complete rubbish. The scientific consensus of "researchers outside of the Vancouver Aquarium" is exactly the opposite of what you are saying.


      Aug 1, 2014 at 9:46pm

      Thank you for this letter!
      You could not have said it any better.

      Card Shark

      Aug 1, 2014 at 10:29pm

      Last time I checked, four mayors trumps four park board commissioners


      Aug 2, 2014 at 1:01pm

      Park board commissioners...if they stopped from their daily routine lounging comfortably in their colleague's office, drinking coffee, chatting about nothing all day long, they would realize how their 'thinking' ironically hurts cetaceans greater in the long-term.

      Park board commissioner salaries that Vancouver tax payers are burdened with - that's what needs to be disposed of.

      Tim Louis

      Aug 2, 2014 at 1:37pm

      You can add my name as well.

      Tim Louis
      Parks Commissioner '90-'96

      Anita Romaniuk

      Aug 3, 2014 at 5:18am

      The Aquarium claims that its research on the impact on acoustical disturbances will be beneficial to wild belugas in the Arctic, and has the nerve to claim that those who oppose keeping belugas and other cetaceans in captivity are not helping the sustainability of belugas in the Arctic. In fact, should global warming proceed as projected without more concerted action, and acoustical disturbances increase, presumably from an increase in ships due to longer periods of ice-free passage, and possibly also increased oil drilling, this is only one of a myriad of possible and even likely impacts on belugas and other marine animals in the Arctic. This includes, besides noise, the higher likelihood of polluting the Arctic ocean, the increased temperature of the water, the decrease in ice cover, and increased releases of methane from the warming crust below, all of which potentially impact not only the belugas, but also the sea life further down the food chain on which they depend. The main culprit in all this is global warming, and any activist who has lobbied, protested, campaigned, signed petitions, or donated to organizations concerned with global warming, is contributing to the welfare of belugas and other marine life in the Arctic.

      Keep the Whales!

      Aug 3, 2014 at 11:42pm

      There is nothing wrong with keeping whales. The public enjoys them. The public matters too, you know.

      9 25Rating: -16


      Aug 4, 2014 at 1:57pm

      Vision regime using Aquarium as a political football. Anything to get re-elected eh Gregor? The political decision made by the Park Board was not based on the facts or science presented. It certainly didn’t take into consideration testimony from dozens of the world’s scientific community, including experts in animal welfare and animal cognition.

      13 7Rating: +6

      Imtiaz Popat

      Aug 6, 2014 at 12:27am

      The public does not enjoy keeping whales in captivity. The public voted to get rid of the zoo. Given a chance they would also vote to get rid of the Aquarium. The Park Board made their decision based on the recommendations of Dr. Jane Goodall and one of the world most renowned scientist in Animal research to end the breading of Whales and Dolphins in captivity. But this decision does not guarantee the end of Whales in captivity, but only to decrease their population by ending their breading. It will still allow the Aquarium to keep whales in Captivity for now.

      Tommy Khang

      Aug 6, 2014 at 8:40am

      You know who has also outlived their usefulness? Former Parks Board Commissioners.

      3 10Rating: -7