Aquarium Fights for Right to Breed Whales


VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - Amid fierce public debate about keeping whales in captivity, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation overstepped its bounds by banning cetacean breeding in the city, the Vancouver Aquarium and Marine Science Centre claims in court.
     The aquarium challenges resolutions passed by the board in July banning breeding of whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
     The aquarium is home to six cetaceans: two rescued dolphins, two rescued porpoises, and two beluga whales, in addition to five belugas on loan from U.S. facilities.
     Public debate about keeping the creatures in captivity ramped up after the city's mayor said that the aquarium should "phase out" keeping whales and dolphins, according to the petition in British Columbia Supreme Court.
     Parks board commissioners also weighed in, eventually passing resolutions to amend bylaws to ban cetacean breeding in the city's parks unless the species is threatened.
     The aquarium claims the resolutions put the facility's cetaceans at risk "by placing decisions related to their care in the control of those with no scientific expertise." Moreover, they threaten "the aquarium's standing in the marine science community and its Canadian and international accreditations."
     The aquarium wants to quash the resolutions because they are beyond the Parks Board's jurisdiction, wrongfully interfere with the aquarium's day-to-day operations, and because they "affect cetaceans primarily outside of Canada."
     The aquarium is represented by James R. Schmidt with Dentons Canada in Vancouver.