Controversy has struck the Vancouver Aquarium once again. The debate of whether keeping whales and dolphins in captivity has always been a contentious issue with animal rights activists, but over the last few months it’s been getting more serious.
Just a few days ago, the Vancouver City Council held a hearing on whether or not to hold a referendum about keeping the whales and dolphins at the aquarium. The referendum would be held in this fall’s municipal election.
Even Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson believes that the aquarium’s dolphins and whales should be released to the wild.
The Vancouver Parks Board, however, has decided that this decision lies with them, and not the public. People still feel, though, that wildlife should not be held captive, but set free in the wild. But there are also some benefits to keeping these animals here.
- The aquarium is a not-for-profit marine science centre with staff and volunteers committed to protecting our oceans
- According to chief veterinarian, Martin Haulena “the animals are cared for by world class trainers, staff, and biologists. “
- The whales and dolphins are used to educate visitors to the aquarium
- The whales and dolphins are the biggest attraction, and bring in the most revenue to the aquarium
- The aquarium rescues sick and injured animals, and gives them an opportunity to recover
- Animals are kept captive in small tanks
- Many people feel keeping such large animals in captivity is not humane
- People also feel whales and dolphins are intelligent animals that deserve to be free
The pros clearly outweigh the cons, but Vancouverites would still like to see these animals freed. Although the public does not have the final say, the aquarium still gets most of its money from admission sales, and if they continue to keep the whales and dolphins, they could see a drop in unhappy visitors.
Written by: Anna Ward
Image via Vancouver Aquarium