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Two animal groups back Park Board in Aquarium cetacean ban lawsuit

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

SPCA, Humane Society seek intervention at BC Supreme Court

Aquarium says the city's Board of Parks and Recreation doesn't have legal authority

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The BC SPCA and Vancouver Humane Society want to enter the legal battle between the Park Board and the Vancouver Aquarium over keeping cetaceans in Stanley Park, in an effort to support the city’s recent ban.

The two groups are seeking leave at BC Supreme Court to intervene and speak at a hearing in October.

“What the Vancouver Humane Society and BC SPCA want to tell the court that animal welfare is a really important consideration when it comes to passing bylaws that impact animals,” animal rights lawyer Rebeka Breder said. “And that’s what the Park Board did in this case and they were completely in their right to do so.”

The aquarium argues the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation did not have the legal authority to change the bylaw which would allow three cetaceans currently at the facility to stay, but no new animals can be brought in.

The tourist attraction has always opposed the ban, fearing it would hamper its ability to save injured animals that are found on BC’s coast. It had previously announced it would phase out belugas in captivity at its facility by 2029.

Breder says the aquarium argues a license agreement between the two parties limits the board’s ability to pass such a bylaw.

“We appreciate there’s an agreement, but the Park Board was so right to listen to the evolving attitude of the public that is now concerned about the welfare of animals and specifically keeping whales in captivity,” Breder says. “The agreement is actually very specific to say that the Vancouver Aquarium has to abide by the bylaws of the city. Now there’s a bylaw that keeping cetaceans in captivity is illegal.”

A judge should make a decision on the animal rights groups’ request by next week.