Cheer the sea change in cetacean captivity

Cheer the sea change in cetacean captivity

A cheer to the Vancouver Aquarium’s announcement this month that it is ending its cetacean program and will be finding a permanent home for Helen, its white side dolphin.


The aquarium’s CEO, John Nightingale, told the CBC that outcry from animal rights activists and mounting legal battles had pushed him to make the decision to end their captivity.

The announcement also follows a vote by the Vancouver Park Board that prevented the aquarium from bringing in any new whales or dolphins, which the aquarium said it was committed to fighting.

Four of the aquarium’s cetaceans died in 2017 including two beluga whales, a porpoise and a false killer whale that had been taken to the aquarium after being found stranded on a beach.

The aquarium has indicated it still wants to be able to allow visitor to view cetaceans it has rescued and rehabilitated who can’t be returned to the wild in its display pools until they find permanent homes.

In the U.S. another major aquarium announced plans to end its captive dolphin displays. The National Aquarium in Baltimore said that by 2020 it will move its dolphins to a large outdoor seaside sanctuary, the first of its kind in the nation, once it finds a suitable environ. The Baltimore aquarium stopped offering its dolphin shows about four years ago.

There still are 3,000 whales and dolphins held in captivity worldwide but the commitment of activists to spotlight the issue has led to a sea change in attitudes by aquariums and zoos about the inhumanity of keeping these sentient beings on display.

Read more here about the movement.