Vancouver Aquarium

Aquarium chief defies decision to ban whales

AN AQUARIUM boss has warned a controversial decision to ban whales from his facility will do the animals more harm than good.

John Nightingale who runs the Vancouver Aquarium said many animals had been helped by this staff and returned to the wild.

But a vote by board chiefs has ruled that the Vancouver Aquarium will no longer be able to house whales, dolphins and porpoises.

The unpopular decision triggered a demo where more than 500 people gathered together outside the aquarium to protest against the new ban.

Protesters stood in the rain for two-and-a-half hours but were unsuccessful in overturning the ruling made by the Stanley Park Board of Governors which bans dolphins and porpoises as well as whales.

The CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium, John Nightingale, said: “We’re going to continue our fight to save the ability to rescue animals.

The park board is an elected body, so there is a possibility that a new board could reverse the decision. The aquarium also isn’t ruling out a legal challenge.

“Just like humans, you go to the hospital, you get well, you go back to your normal life, or you need long-term care sometimes. For 50 years, the aquarium has been that long-term care.”

A false killer whale calf wades with a veterinarian technician Chellan Robinson at Vancouver Aquarium

The decision came across as “hugely disappointing” and was booed by the angry crowed several times throughout the protest.

A fellow commissioner Catherine Evans said commissioners have been accused of being heartless because animals benefited from being at the aquarium something echoed by other members during the meeting.

One commissioner said the decision could be a death sentence for rescued animals who are not suitable for re-release and whose treatment may now be compromised.

The board chair Michael Wiebe admitted that the strength of feeling in the crowd was overwhelming and it had to be calmed down on more than one occasion. 

He said: “You could feel the passion.

“We could hear the people outside on both sides, front and back door, people around the gardens. 

“We had a full gallery of people that were here (Monday) and we’ve seen this throughout the process.”The Vancouver Aquarium now has 12 years to come up with a new plan where to house whales and how to continue its role of educating the public about the animals without them actually being there.

Mr Nightingale has reassured the supporters that the aquarium is “not going away” but some serious changes will be implemented regarding staff members and the aquarium policy.

The Park’s board spokesperson said: “We don’t care, it’s your problem.”


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