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"That the Vancouver Aquarium doesn’t have a contingency plan is shocking."
- JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press -

Letter to our Municipal, Provincial and Federal Government Officials

I am writing to urge our federal, provincial and municipal governments to reject fundraising efforts by the Vancouver Aquarium to obtain a $9.5 million bailout to continue doing business as usual.

The Aquarium claims it is losing millions since shutting down March 17. Apparently, the CEO did not have a back up plan. It is hard to believe that only a month later, the Aquarium is asking for federal and provincial assistance, threatening bankruptcy and closure should the demand go unheeded.

In comparison, the Greater Vancouver Zoo does not need to be bailed out and is managing well because of being prepared for an emergency. I don't understand why the Vancouver Aquarium does not have a contingency plan when its $46-million annual budget is largely funded by depriving over 70,000 animals of their freedom, charging people high admission fees to catch a glimpse of them, and receiving huge annual grants from polluting companies, as well as our government. Heck! The Aquarium doesn't even pay rent or taxes!

Public support for keeping captive animals continues to decline. It is time to stop all government funding and tax-payer subsidies for the Vancouver Aquarium.

I wish the Aquarium would consider becoming a sanctuary instead of remaining a marine amusement park, but I understand that the facility is built for tourists to enjoy themselves, not for animals to be rehabilitated and released. It would take not only a big investment to demolish all the displays and stadiums around the marine mammal tanks - but even harder than that, it would take a huge change in attitude. Not only has the Aquarium always opposed animal sanctuary projects, but it continues to cling to the past, ideologically wedded to the outdated idea that there are no moral or ethical issues with confining wildlife purely for our amusement.

It is time for the Aquarium to close down and get out of Stanley Park, or change all live animal displays with holograms and video exhibits. The fate of the many animals currently kept captive at the Aquarium will need to be assessed and best solutions for each individual animal should be found. Local marine animals such as some fish species, sharks and the octopus, might be able to be released off our coast. Other animal species can be offered to facilities that will remain open around the world.

Unfortunately, some captive animals might need to be euthanized but at least never again will wildlife be captured or purchased to keep the Aquarium's displays full. Consider as an example among the many, that every few months another Giant Pacific Octopus has to be captured in BC, because the last one died in the display tank.

The  truth is that the Vancouver Aquarium is not a CONSERVER of wildlife, it is a CONSUMER of wildlife.

Throughout the decades, a few Canadian zoos and marine animal parks have closed. When Vancouverites voted in a 1993 plebiscite to close the Stanley Park Zoo right next door to the Aquarium, the Vancouver Park Board staff worked hard but found other facilities for the zoo animals. Same with the defunct Sealand in Victoria, BC. The Aquarium should close down or change its live animal displays to video-based exhibits.

The Aquarium is not an essential service and just for that reason, our government should not bail out this multi-million dollar business hiding behind a charitable society status.