Vancouver Aquarium whales program under review at Park Board meeting
Stanley Park attraction to respond to criticism of captive cetacean program
The continuing controversy over Vancouver Aquarium's captive whale and dolphin program is going before a special meeting of the Vancouver Park Board at 9 a.m. PT today.
The meeting agenda includes presentation of the staff report into the aquarium's operations around captive cetaceans that was ordered in April this year.
Park Board Chair Aaron Jasper says the report itself is simply an overview and doesn't make specific findings.
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"This report does not make recommendations," he said.
"It is strictly a fact finding report, and then really it will be up to the board to decide if they want to take any further action, and that could range from seeking further information as recommended by the author, or to take some definitive action with respect to the bylaws pertaining to cetaceans in captivity."
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is already on record calling for a phased end to cetaceans in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium. However, the mayor and council voted 9-1 in May against putting the question to a referendum in this year's civic elections.
And in May renowned conservationist Jane Goodall weighed in on the controversy penning a letter to the aquarium saying on-site cetecean breeding is "no longer defensible by science."
After hearing the staff report, the Vancouver Aquarium will present to the board on its programming, education and rehabilitation programs, then registered speakers will be invited to comment.
The Aquarium was already on the offensive taking to Twitter Friday night.
A public memo — also commissioned at the April meeting — has been made available. It assesses the current arrangements and relationship between the Vancouver Park Board and the aquarium.
An online petition calling for the end to the practice of keeping captive beluga whales and other cetaceans at the popular Stanley Park attraction has garnered thousands of signatures.
The Vancouver Aquarium is home to two beluga whales and two Pacific White-Sided Dolphins. It also runs a Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, which is not in Stanley Park.
Over the past 10 years, there have been two attempts to put the issue to a referendum or plebiscite, both unsuccessful.