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Advocates protest Vancouver Aquarium lawsuit against city, Park Board

Last Updated May 20, 2019 at 5:58 pm PDT

FILE - The Vancouver Aquarium. (James Cybulski, NEWS 1130, Photo)

The Aquarium is currently home to one cetacean - a white-sided dolphin named Helen

The Aquarium announced the lawsuit last week

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver Aquarium was the site Monday of yet another protest – the second one in less than a month.

Members of “No More Dead Cetaceans” gathered at the attraction to speak out against what they call a “crass and greedy” lawsuit launched by the facility in Stanley Park.

Last week, the Aquarium announced it was suing both the city and its park board over the now-two-year-old cetacean ban. The facility claims the ban was a breach of contract, and that it lost millions of dollars in revenue.

Read more: Vancouver Aquarium suing city and park board over millions lost after cetacean ban

In May 2017, the Vancouver Park Board voted six to one to approve a bylaw banning whales, dolphins and porpoises in captivity.

According to the Aquarium’s civil claim, file on May 14, the bylaw has interfered with its “ability to carry out day-to-day administration” of the Marine Science Centre.

Demonstrators are also pushing back against the Aquarium’s plan to send two of its belugas, which are on loan to Marineland outside of Toronto, to a facility in Spain.

“The slogan of this protest activity remains the same- #RESPECTTHEBAN,” a release said. “It remains unchanged because the Aquarium also remains unchanged in their practices. Despite the deaths of 4 Cetaceans in a year, 5 of the last 6 Beluga deaths being technically unresolved, Vancouver Aquarium still participates in their trade and relocation, sending two previously undisclosed Beluga individuals the own from MarineLand to a small facility in Spain that they run the operations of.”

Read more: Whale sanctuary off BC coast would eliminate need for cetaceans in aquariums

One activist present at the protest said the Aquarium shouldn’t have launched the lawsuit.

“The Vancouver Aquarium needs to respect the ban, and the cetacean ban is for a good reason,” the protester said. “These animals don’t deserve to be in cages, they should be free in the wild.”

Another called the lawsuit unethical and money driven.

“We want them to understand that they’re profit-driven, like this lawsuit clearly shows,” he said. “Basically, any time their profit is threatened, they lash out in some way.”

The Aquarium is currently home to one cetacean – a white-sided dolphin named Helen.

It had announced in February 2017 that it would phase out its cetacean program by 2029, but intended on bringing in five more belugas in the interim once it opened its Canada’s Arctic exhibit.

The lawsuit says the Aquarium wrote off $2.2 million in design and consulting costs for the exhibit, and claims it lost a “major private donation” which was in support of the habitat.