News / Vancouver

BC SPCA and Humane Society seek intervenor status in Vancouver Aquarium legal challenge

Cetacean ban is in best interest of animals, say groups

Two more animal welfare organizations want to jump into the legal case involving the Vancouver Aquarium’s bid to have the Vancouver Park Board’s cetacean ban overturned.

The BC SPCA and Vancouver Humane Society said in a statement Thursday they “fully support” the ban on cetaceans at Stanley Park because the animals’ needs cannot be met in captivity. They join Animal Justice and Zoocheck in asking the B.C. Supreme Court to become intervenors in this case.

If granted intervenor status by the court, the BC SPCA and VHS say it will argue the park board is acting in the public interest, which includes consideration of the humane treatment of animals.

If the court rejects the bylaw banning cetacean captivity, it would set a dangerous precedent that could limit elected policymakers’ ability to set rules about animals, according to a joint release from the BC SPCA and VHS.

“If this bylaw is overturned, it will not only compromise the welfare of cetaceans, it could undermine animal welfare across Canada,” said VHS executive director Debra Probert.

“The BC SPCA believes this bylaw serves the best interests of cetaceans. As an organization that speaks out on behalf of wild, companion and farm animals, we have a responsibility to support laws and bylaws that promote good welfare,” said Craig Daniell, CEO of the BC SPCA.

In its original petition to the court, the aquarium stated:

"Through its cetacean program, the Vancouver Aquarium expresses one viewpoint in a many-sided public – and now political – debate about the ethics of keeping cetaceans in captivity. The Vancouver Aquarium’s view is one aimed at demonstrating the capacity of human beings to care for captive, non-releasable cetaceans in an ethical manner, and in a manner that promotes the conservation of wild populations and the marine environment."

The aquarium is currently home to two cetaceans – Helen, a Pacific white-sided dolphin and Chester, a false killer whale. Both came to the aquarium as rescue animals.

Daisy, a harbour porpoise, died from pulmonary disease in June, marking the fourth cetacean to die at the aquarium in 10 months.

Two belugas at the aquarium, Aurora and Qila, died suddenly from an unknown toxin in November, re-igniting public debate on whether cetaceans should be kept in captivity.

The Vancouver Aquarium owns five other belugas currently on loan to other aquariums.

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