Friends of the Vancouver Aquarium on tonight’s pending vote at the Park Board regarding cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friends of the Vancouver Aquarium on tonight’s pending vote at the Park Board regarding cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium

VANCOUVER, B.C., May 15, 2017

Our changing ecosystems present unique challenges to all life on Earth, particularly for animals that live in our warming oceans, and many animals need our support to survive. In Vancouver, it is the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre lending a hand to injured or sick marine mammals. Many of them need rescue because of man-made actions in the first place. We strongly believe that any wild animal, cetacean or otherwise, deserves a chance to live, and that rescuing them is a means of mitigating these man-made threats. Animals that cannot be released must be given a home, and that home, for marine mammals in Canada, is the Vancouver Aquarium. It is the only facility in the country that can rescue, rehabilitate and release marine mammals and give sanctuary to those that cannot go back into the wild. That ability must not be compromised.

When the Park Board requested input from the public back in March 2017, they did so under the pretense that their goal was to ask Vancouverites for their ideas about a potential referendum on keeping cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium. Some objected, but many agreed that asking the public for its opinion during the 2018 election might not be the worst idea. Other options presented to the Park Board seemed far-fetched, and nobody assumed that the commissioners would ever move to enact a by-law amendment that would ban even non-releasable animals from given sanctuary at the Aquarium.

Many supporters therefore never even followed the Park Board’s invitation and did not speak at the hearings at all. And even to those that did speak or attend the hearings in the audience, the result was a surprise. For weeks, Park Board chair Wiebe declined to comment on the decision and its implications, asking people to wait it out until the staff report was released. And when he finally did comment, it was obvious that he had no idea what he would be voting on, or what the actual implications of the ban might be. The issue of future rescued but non-releasable animals did not come up at the Park Board at all, nor did the commissioners ask staff to investigate it. It was completely ignored.

When supporters requested that the Park Board refer the issue to a special meeting for discussion, they were shut down with immediate rejection. And Park Board chair Wiebe indicated that all was decided, and that they would vote on the by-law amendment on Monday (tonight).
A recent survey commissioned by the Vancouver Aquarium showed strong support for the Aqarium as a sanctuary for future non-releasable animals, with a fast majority of Vancouverites and BC residents supporting that idea. As Friends of the Vancouver Aquarium, we also asked our supporters to call us and leave messages in support of that vital program. Within a week, we had received more than 70 messages on our voice mailbox, from people asking us to forward their messages to the Park Board commissioners. The 40+ minutes of recorded audio present the testimoniy of citizens that the Park Board did not want to hear. We are releasing the recordings to the public for review and hope that commissioners will take notice.

Link to audio: http://vanaquafriends.org/media/messages_to_the_park_board.mp3

Tonight we will be joining the Vancouver Aquarium on its Rally for Rescue in Vancouver. We sincerely hope the Park Board commissioners will step back and reconsider their rushed decision. If their goal is the welfare of wild animals, then their decision does not correspond to that, and we urge them to make an exception for those rescued animals that cannot return to the wild.

ABOUT FRIENDS OF THE VANCOUVER AQUARIUM

Friends of the Vancouver Aquarium is a group of supporters of the Vancouver Aquarium. We are members of the public as well as Vancouver Aquarium members and volunteers who support Canada’s national aquarium and marine science centre. While we do not represent nor speak for the Vancouver Aquarium, we support the Vancouver Aquarium’s mission, to conserve aquatic life.

Media Contact:
Marcus Wernicke
Phone (mailbox): (778) 819-8486
media@vanaquafriends.org

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