Cetaceans Win in Vancouver, Despite Aquarium Propaganda


The Vancouver Parks Board has passed a total ban on the captivity of cetaceans. The amended Cetacean Bylaw will finally end cetacean suffering in the city of Vancouver, despite Aquarium business propaganda. This will help to guarantee the rights and freedoms of cetaceans worldwide!

There will not be any exemptions, such as permitting captivity for rescued or captive born cetaceans, or for research purposes. Permitting any imprisonment of cetaceans for any reason is unnecessary and would perpetuate captivity in general. The Vancouver Aquarium previously said that they would “rescue” from all “Canadian shores”, so that would have led to many more captive cetaceans. For decades the so-called “unreleaseables” have been used as a free source for aquarium and zoo animal markets.

Recent comments by John Nightingale claiming the Vancouver Aquarium (VA) never did whale and dolphin shows are just the tip of their iceberg of misinformation. CBC stated on May 13:

“Nightingale’s save-a-space-for-rescue whales song rings hollow for some, against the backdrop of the aquarium’s long history of fatalities, punctuated by the death of two belugas — Qila and Aurora — in 2016.”

The Aquarium fear mongers know very well that in the rare cases of cetaceans needing rescue, there is already a team of people from the government, NPOs, companies, and the public ready to help. There are also many examples of local people rescuing orcas and other cetaceans. The Bylaw ban isn’t going to increase harm to any cetacean.

The VA recently said that their objection to the ban is also about jobs and loss of revenue. In 2007, they held a conference to discuss how to get more lucrative government and private business grants to grow their research and captivity businesses. VA refers to sentient captives and “rescues” as “untapped resources” and “tools” to use for their questionable experiments.

Vancouver has been a world leader in being a Green City. Vancouver was one of the first to stop wild animal acts in circuses. Vancouver closed the Stanley Park Zoo, and tried to ban keeping cetaceans in 1996.

Lifeforce has been fighting the VA expansions and captivity since 1980. Our direct action to document cruelty during the 1990 VA beluga hunt in Churchill, Manitoba led to Canada ending captures and exports by foreign countries. 52 cetaceans have died in 52 years as a result of the Vancouver Aquarium’s cetacean captivity business. The VA itself started the orca slave trade that decimated the Southern Resident Killer Whale population.

Stated Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Founder:

“If people are against capturing and imprisoning wild cetaceans then they should also be against capturing frightened, sick, and injured wild cetaceans for a life sentence in a pool prison being subjected to highly questionable experiments. We cannot justify saving ‘rescues’ for them to suffer and die in captivity.”

The Vancouver Parks Board is taking the humane highway by ending cetacean captivity. Recently France also banned all cetacean breeding and any further captivity of cetaceans.

Lifeforce offered three additional recommendations to the Vancouver Parks Board going forward:

  1. The three cetaceans presently at the aquarium should be retired from performing day long forced circus tricks and being used in physically and/or psychologically stressful experiments. In one experiment, researchers tried for over a year to put blinders on two dolphins. They finally stopped trying to force one of the dolphins.
  1. The Vancouver Aquarium (VA) should be looking for sea pens to house retired cetaceans and any possible future rescues. The VA has noisy public crowds every day and most evenings. Studies have shown that dolphins develop ulcers after being put on public display. A sea pen would allow for a stimulating life, including diverse interactions with other sea life, in a natural environment. The Aquarium has tried to pen the lone orca, Springer, at their research station on nearby Popham Island, BC. The Aquarium should also locate any feasible DFO marine research stations and/or private businesses. There are several possibilities in BC waters. There are also non profit organizations that have located some suitable BC locations.
  1. What exactly are the Aquarium’s new plans for building more pools? The VA must reapply for a new building permit using the proper public process for its present 2017 plans. The old 2006 expansion is outdated. Preferably it would simply spend the government monies on sea pens rather than pool prisons.


The Aquarium iceberg is melting. The truth is beginning to prevail. Aquariums and zoos have failed to educate and to stop the decline of wildlife. No more cetacean circus captives and “research tools”. Give respect for cetaceans!

Featured image: Helen the Pacific White Sided Dolphin and Chester the False Killer Whale, cetaceans still housed at the Vancouver Aquarium. Credit Analise Zocher, CC BY 2.0.

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Lifeforce is a non-profit Vancouver based ecology organization that was formed in 1981 to raise public awareness of the interrelationship between people, animals, and the environment. We promote animal rights and ecological responsibility. In order to develop a non-violent society we must extend our circle of compassion to include all sentient creatures with whom we share this planet. Click to see author's profile.

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