Vancouver Aquarium - Change the Path Now!

Support Compassionate Conservation for Whales & Dolphins

Beluga at Vancouver Aquarium

This was a letter I recently sent to Sarah Blyth and the other members of the Vancouver Park Board Commission about the fate of the Vancouver Aquarium.

Hello Ms. Blyth,

As you know, for the last few months the Vancouver Aquarium has been under public scrutiny for its whale and dolphin program, as have all public aquariums around the world. It was suggested that a public vote should be cast, but the council rejected this offer and has placed the fate of the program on the shoulders of the Park Board.

The real crux of the matter here is that the aquarium was approved for a multi-million dollar expansion that could make or break the future of the facility, effect jobs, and the valuable scientific research that they do. This money would give them a huge opportunity to set a precedence for future marine programs and set an example for the SeaWorld type parks.

Why do these places feel that all the public wants is a circus show to be entertained? I'd like to think that we have evolved and a growing percentage of the public is more concerned about their environment and the fate of our wildlife, especially here on the west coast. This is an opportunity to break from the outdated aquarium mold and really give people something of value.

If they have whales or dolphins that are able to be released - do it! Make a big deal out of it and the public will love them. Then take some of the money they’ve been approved for and construct dolphin and whale sea pens to retire those who couldn't survive on their own. Ask the National Aquarium in Baltimore about their eight bottlenose dolphins that will be moved to a seaside sanctuary. That is the type of direction we need to take our aquariums.

If they’re concerned about  losing admission money - don't be.  Now people, who otherwise would never have visited their marine circus, will come in droves and pay just to hang out with these beautiful creatures in a peaceful, natural setting.  Instead of putting on a loud, garish gymnastic display, their scientists could talk about the nature of the whales and dolphins, new learnings and how we can help them to thrive.

In a recent letter from Dr. Jane Goodall, she spoke out against confining cetaceans and how it completely contradicts their social nature. In it she states "The phasing out of such cetacean programs is the natural progression of human-kind’s evolving view of our non-human animal kin. I hope the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Aquarium will be a leader in compassionate conservation on this issue, as you have done before.”

I wanted to voice my support for this type of compassionate conservation and plead with the park board to look at this as an opportunity for growth and actually changing the future of marine aquariums. Let the aquarium continue their work, but with conditions. The Vancouver Aquarium claims to be a facility that is based on scientific research – make them walk the talk:

1. Eliminate the circus shows

2. Take responsibility for these beautiful whales and dolphins by giving them a quality future. Release those you can,  or build a sea sanctuary for those who can’t be released.

Thank you for your time. I’ll be passing on your contact info so that others may also share their views. Good luck with your decision.

Val Kirton


The board will be making their decision by July 2014 - if you want your voice to be heard - do it now. Here is the contact information for the Vancouver Park Board Commissioners -

Sara Blyth: email: sarah.blyth@vancouver.ca Twitter: @sarahblyth

John Coupar: email: john.coupar@vancouver.ca Twitter: @JohnCCoupar

Melissa De Genova: email: melissa.degenova@vancouver.ca Twitter: @MelissaDeGenova

Trevor Loke: email: trevor.loke@vancouver.ca Twitter: @TrevorLoke

Park Board Vice Chair Constance Barnes:

email: constance.barnes@vancouver.ca Twitter: @ConstanceBarnes

Park Board Chair Aaron Jasper:

email: aaron.jasper@vancouver.ca Twitter: @Aaron_Jasper

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