Two animal activist Vancouver Park Board commissioners failed to have their way on Monday night when a majority of their colleagues voted against a last-ditch motion to pass a bylaw amendment that would have effectively banned the Vancouver Aquarium’s dolphins and whales from breeding naturally.
Commissioners Sarah Blyth and Constance Barnes were responsible for much of the heightened controversy over the Aquarium’s dolphins and whales since this past spring.
A motion this past summer to ban the institution from keeping dolphins and whales was defeated. This immediately led to another vote that gave Park Board staff green light to take steps that will lead to banning natural cetacean breeding and creating an oversight committee of animal activists to “monitor” the welfare of the cetaceans housed at the Aquarium.
Park Board staff released a report early last week outlining the breeding ban bylaw amendments and the oversight committee’s structure.
On Monday, during the final meeting of their tenure in office, the outgoing Vision Vancouver-dominated Park Board voted against Blyth’s motion in a 4-3 vote to implement the breeding ban bylaw amendment and create an oversight committee. Vision’s Aaron Jasper and Trevor Loke voted with the NPA’s Melissa De Genova and John Coupar to defeat the motion supported by Blyth, Barnes and Niki Sharma.
This was followed up by a separate motion proposed by Blyth to reexamine the issue of cetacean captivity in 2015, even though this was already agreed upon in 2006 and performed thoroughly throughout 2014. The Park Board went as far as commissioning scientists and veterinarians at the University of California to produce an independent report on cetacean captivity, which concluded research, rescue and conservation efforts are dependent on the Aquarium’s dolphins and whales.
Blyth’s second motion of the day received 4-3 approval, although she oddly joined the two NPA commissioners in voting against her own motion.
The Park Board opted to leave the decision over the Aquarium’s cetaceans for the incoming Non-Partisan Association (NPA) Park Board. The new Park Board will take office next week and the NPA already stated their intention to use their newfound majority to reverse actions taken by the outgoing Park Board on the matter of cetacean breeding.
It is speculated that Vision Vancouver lost their majority in the Park Board over their aggressive and polarizing stance on the Vancouver Aquarium, which is now suing the Park Board for interfering with matters it has no jurisdiction over.
Aquarium president and CEO John Nightingale has maintained that no artificial breeding is performed at the Vancouver Aquarium – all breeding by cetaceans is natural, on their own will, as they would in the wild.
Furthermore, some of the Vancouver Aquarium’s dolphins and whales were recently relocated on a temporary basis to other North American facilities because of the anticipated construction to come at the Aquarium. This is required as the institution is preparing for major construction that will significantly expand the size of its dolphin and whale tanks.
Feature Image: Vancouver Aquarium