Walrus controversy: Activists call for boycott of Vancouver and Quebec aquariums

Dec 7 2017, 2:49 pm

An animal rights group is calling for a boycott of the Vancouver and Quebec City aquariums because of a walrus transfer between the two facilities.

According to a release from the Aquarium du Québec (ADQ) in Quebec City, the walruses named Lakina and Balzak will be making a trip to the Vancouver Aquarium sometime before Christmas.

Vancouver-based Lifeforce Foundation says the move will tear the walrus pups away from their mother.

“The trauma of breaking the precious bond between mom and babies can even be life-threatening. In the wild nursing moms with pups stay together while males hang out with others. Captive breeding can interfere with these natural lifestyles,” wrote the group on Facebook.

“What is the rush to get them here by Christmas? Is it to have a cute Christmas ‘entertainment’ promotion and then later lucrative experiments? And, if they survive, what will be their fate after a ‘few years?’”

“That is also the unbearable trauma for mother, Amaliaq, and the babies, Lakina and Balzak, if they are stressfully transported away and put alone in a foreign concrete prison,” continues the statement. “They are sentient beings who must not be mistreated as inanimate, marketing items. It is a cruel, business plan that we all can try to stop by boycotting the Aquarium du Quebec and the Vancouver Aquarium!”

The ADQ says the departure of both of the youth walruses will allow the three other adult walruses to return to their communal pool.

“Since the birth of the walruses, our adult male, Boris, has been kept in a separate space since, in nature, the male does not usually stay with newborns,” reads the release. “This separation has avoided the risk of injury to the little ones and facilitated the monitoring of their development.”

“However, walruses are also social animals, so after a year and a half, the experts at Aquarium du Québec believe that Boris would benefit from a return to communal life.”

Lakina and Balzak were born just a few days apart at ADQ and were only the seventh and eighth baby walruses born in captivity in North America in 86 years.

With files from Kenneth Chan. 

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