23 June 2010

Aquarium must stop keeping whales

Editorial: Aquarium must stop keeping whales

The Province June 23, 2010 10:20 AM

The Vancouver Aquarium is a wonderful institution that has perhaps more than any other similar organization in Canada contributed to the public's appreciation of marine animals and their environment.

You only have to look into the amazed eyes of a child, nose pressed to the glass of one of the aquarium's many exhibits, to understand how well the facility teaches all of us to respect the natural world. And, of course, we can express only positives about the aquarium's work at rehabilitating injured or orphaned animals and the research it supports.

However, the latest in a long line of whale deaths at the aquarium ˜ this time one-year-old beluga calf Nala ˜ calls into question the wisdom and morality of keeping captive whales and other large marine animals. It is a practice that must end.

With whale-watching tours and the gorgeous high-definition nature shows we can all now watch on television, the argument that seeing whales up close in an enclosure is the best way to appreciate them have dried up. And the common refrain that baby whales die earlier and more frequently in the wild does not justify raising them in captivity ˜ even without finding pennies and pebbles down their blow holes.

These are tremendous creatures that deserve to be born, live and die in their natural environment on their own terms, and our species should assume no right to impose our will upon them. The aquarium needs to evolve.

What do you think? Comment below or email, including your name and town, to: provletters@theprovince.com.

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1 comment:

  1. I grew up a few blocks from Sealand in Victoria, and spent many happy hours watching the orcas there. I cried when Miracle, the injured calf saved by Sealand staff, drowned in her own pool while exploring a hole cut in the net by a protester trying to set her free. I cried again when a young trainer was killed after falling into the pool - the whales would not let her out.

    My strongest memory is of visiting a ship with then-MLA Brian Little. Three whales had been captured and were waiting for transport to Sealand, including an albino calf they named Chimo. It was exciting to go on the ship and watch the whales close to. But what stuck in my heart was the crying of the whales for their pod, hovering just out in the strait, calling back to them. That lonely sound stays with me.

    Yes, it is time - time to acknowledge that humans have no rights over the other inhabitants of this world: no right to capture, no right to destroy. Although I appreciate and applaud efforts to rehabilitate injured or orphaned animals, institutions like the Aquarium need to develop new ways of educating people.