This petition aims to convince the current Vancouver Park Board Commissioners, Mayor and City Council to create a strong bylaw which would phase out all cetacean captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium. No cetacean should ever be held in a concrete tank and the people of Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada have made their voices loud and clear - an end to this inhumane practice is necessary.
If a decision cannot be made in structuring a bylaw, we ask that the Park Board, Mayor and City Council, respect democracy and allow a whale referendum question to be placed on the municipal election ballot on November 15, 2014. The referendum question would ask the public if they agree with keeping whales and dolphins in captivity in the public aquarium.
The only way that the Vancouver Public Aquarium can be compelled to end the barbaric practice of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity is through the democratic process. Because this aquarium is located in Stanley Park, which is public land, this means that the democratically elected Parks Board Commissioners have the jurisdiction to determine whether or not whale and dolphin captivity should be tolerated in Stanley Park. This is a sensitive matter that requires a wider public discussion and ultimately, a democratic resolution. Tragically, until now the Parks Board, regardless of which political party has been in power, has consistently refused to give the citizens the democratic option to express their opinion on this issue. The public should be consulted through a whale referendum during the upcoming November, 2014 civic elections. Please help make this happen and sign this petition.
Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent, intensely social, highly cooperative animals that in the wild live in extended family units called pods. In captivity, they are often forced to share tanks with animals from different pods, species and geographic locations. Like humans they suffer greatly in captivity. In captivity they are perpetually stressed out and often die prematurely. In the wild these animals dive hundreds of feet into the depth of the ocean and may easily travel more than a 100 kilometres in a single day. It is simply not possible to meet the complex physical and behavioural needs of these animals in captivity.
The American Humane Society has concluded that keeping dolphins in confinement in concrete tanks is “inhumane beyond comprehension". They suffer whether or not they were taken from the wild or bred for captivity. For these reasons, in May 2013, the Government of India “officially recognized dolphins as non-human persons, whose rights to life and liberty must be respected” and thereby banned the import, capture and captivity of cetaceans in all public and private enterprises.
In stark contrast the Vancouver Aquarium is currently expanding its whale tanks and plans to maintain the whale and dolphin captivity program in perpetuity adding more animals to fill up those tanks. These animals are suffering in captivity for one reason only, profits. There is no educational or scientific value to the Aquarium’s whale and dolphin display. As the internationally respected oceanographer and educator Jacques Cousteau aptly put it, “the educational benefit of watching a dolphin in captivity would be like learning about humanity only by watching prisoners in solitary confinement”.
Whereas the Vancouver Aquarium is situated on public lands that are under the jurisdiction of the Vancouver Parks Board;
Whereas the Vancouver Parks Board enacted a bylaw on September 16, 1996 that prohibits the importation of any more cetaceans (whales and dolphins) into city parks;
Whereas despite such restrictions, the Park Board has not reacted nor stopped the Vancouver Aquarium from importing 3 more dolphins from Japan;
Whereas the Vancouver Aquarium currently holds 2 beluga whales and 2 dolphins but is now building cetacean display tanks to keep and exhibit up to 8 beluga whales and 8 dolphins;
Whereas cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are highly intelligent social animals and scientists now agree that keeping them in captivity is cruel and inhumane;
We therefore call upon the Vancouver Park Board, Vancouver City Council and the Mayor to phase out the public display of captive cetaceans in the Vancouver Aquarium by (a) enacting a bylaw, prior to the November 15, 2014, civic election, that forbids the importation, breeding and public display of any more whales and dolphins in Stanley Park and (b) failing to enact such bylaw prior to the November 15, 2014 civic election, to hold a public referendum during the November 15, 2014 civic election on the question of phasing out whale and dolphin captivity in Stanley Park in order to give future Park Board commissioners direction when negotiating the rental lease with the Vancouver Aquarium in 2015;
Therefore I submit to you a possible referendum question, "Are you in favour of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity in Stanley Park?"