VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the Vancouver Aquarium considers what action to take in the wake of a new ban on cetaceans in captivity, a former cabinet minister is coming to the defence of the popular attraction.
Pat McGeer was part of a team which brought the very first whale into the aquarium’s possession more than five decades ago.
‘Moby Doll,’ as the orca was dubbed, was harpooned off the coast of Saturna Island back in 1964. As a UBC neurologist, McGeer was eager to study a whale brain. The orca’s carcass was meant to be a template for a new model at the aquarium.
But the orca didn’t die, so it was brought to a makeshift pen at Jericho Beach where it died a few months later.
McGeer’s support for the aquarium has never wavered in the decades to follow.
He’s convinced scientific study wouldn’t be possible if cetaceans weren’t kept in tanks.
“The only way you can learn about cetaceans is where they are in captivity. Everything we know about them is because they’ve been kept in captivity,” he asserts.
He believes the park board commissioners’ vote to ban the cetaceans was far beyond their jurisdiction.
“I think we have to recognize that the park board is way beyond its level of ability, its competence and its understanding. It’s a shame the aquarium has to face this, but they’ll overcome it.”
He insists because the City of Vancouver technically still leases Stanley Park from the federal government, the park board has no real authority over the park or its attractions.
He’s convinced the park board decision will be overturned or ‘ignored.’ The aquarium has yet to announce if it will pursue the case in the courts.
In the meantime, McGeer is applauding the work the aquarium does.
“Give them all of the support you can, and condemn the fools.”