Loading articles...

Protesters urge Vancouver Aquarium to give up on displaying whales

Last Updated May 13, 2017 at 6:44 pm PDT

(Hana Mae Nassar, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Dozens of protesters turned out for the annual “Empty the Tanks” event on Saturday, just days ahead of a meeting that could decide the future of whales and dolphins at the Vancouver Aquarium.

A Vancouver Park Board meeting on Monday will discuss a draft plan to end the display of cetaceans at the aquarium. The aquarium opposes the by-law amendments, saying they would force rescuers to euthanize animals that can’t be returned to the wild.

Protesters chanted “respect the ban” during the demonstration and asked people not to buy tickets to the aquarium.

It was one of about 60 such marches against cetaceans in captivity around the world.

“We feel that the assertion that they can’t do rescue work of cetaceans with a ban in place is sort of subterfuge or obfuscation for the fact that they want to display animals captive for profit,” says protest organizer David Isbister.

Lilah, 12, was among the protesters.

“I think it’s really unfair that people just take them away from their home and their family and put them in tanks where they’re all alone and make them to tricks,” she says.

Meadow agrees and says the aquarium isn’t the right place for whales and dolphins.

“I really felt sad when the two belugas died, and I really don’t want any more to die.”

Independent filmmaker Gary Charbonneau was also among protesters, and says the Vancouver Aquarium is misrepresenting the facts by saying it would have to euthanize rescued cetaceans.

“By saying that without captivity here at the Vancouver Aquarium, animals like Chester would be euthanized, is completely untrue, because when they found Chester they had actually told the press that numerous facilities across North America offered him a permanent home.”

Charbonneau is embroiled in a court case involving the aquarium. The popular attraction has been granted an injunction, requiring Charbonneau to remove 15 segments of his documentary ‘Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered,’ until a full trial over copyright infringement is heard.

The Vancouver Aquarium is currently home to three rescued cetaceans: Chester, a false killer whale; Daisy, a harbour porpoise; and Helen, a white-sided dolphin. They will not be affected by the new by-law.