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Vancouver Aquarium to cease displaying cetaceans

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Vancouver Aquarium. cetaceans, whales and dolphins. Ocean Wise.

Vancouver Aquarium has announced it will no longer display cetaceans and instead will focus on raising awareness of issues impacting other vulnerable marine animals.

Ocean Wise, the conservation organisation that runs the aquarium, announced the decision in a blog post on its website.

“The ongoing discussions about whales and dolphins in our care have been a distraction from real threats to the ocean and have sidelined the critical work we lead,” the post stated. “We aim to inspire people in every corner of the planet to participate in creating healthy oceans, and it’s time to get on with it.”

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre will continue to rescue and rehabilitate whales and dolphins in need but will only keep them at its facility for short-term care before returning them to the wild. Any animal needing ongoing treatment will be transferred to an appropriate long-term facility.

Helen, the Pacific white-sided dolphin who is the only cetacean at the aquarium, will remain at the facility. She is not a candidate for release due to only having partial flippers and because she has been in professional care since 2005.

In March last year, the Vancouver park board unanimously voted to ban displays featuring cetaceans, ordering the aquarium to phase them out by 2029.

Vancouver Aquarium also announced it will begin construction later this year on an expansion to its exhibit focused on the Arctic region of Canada.

The current exhibition tells the story of changes experienced by the animals, land and people living in the Arctic region with a focus on how climate change is affecting the area. The expansion will include a transformed habitat and display that will engage visitors about the challenges facing Canada’s fragile North. An array of species will be featured, including coldwater corals, seals and walruses.

Ocean Wise has placed a priority on protecting Arctic region and the exhibit will be a key element of that work. The transformed Canada’s Arctic exhibit is scheduled to open in 2019 after being in development at the aquarium for more than a decade.

Image: Vancouver Aquarium

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