Vancouver Humane Society calls for Vancouver Aquarium to stop breeding and acquiring cetaceans

June 22, 2010

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is saddened, but not surprised, by the death of another baby beluga at the Vancouver Aquarium and is calling for an immediate halt to further breeding and acquisition of cetaceans by the facility.

“Keeping and breeding these magnificent animals in an environment thousands if not millions of times smaller than the one to which they have evolved is unconscionable,” says Debra Probert, VHS Executive Director.

Belugas live in highly complex environments that can’t be replicated in captivity. They are highly social animals who live in the ocean in large pods. According to media reports, Nala had two rocks and a penny lodged in her airway.

“You can’t keep an animal in what basically comes down to a bathtub and expect it to behave naturally,” says Probert. “The industry claims to be educational but in fact it exists to provide entertainment. There is no educational or conservation value in keeping whales in tanks – it’s not an environment conducive to learning anything about them.”

VHS also claims there is little oversight of the captive animal industry. “The only organization providing any kind of accreditation to aquariums and zoos is sadly ineffective,” claims Probert. The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) visits accredited facilities only every five years. “The West Edmonton Mall is an accredited facility,” adds Probert. “That in itself should show how effective CAZA is.”