Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

Cetaceans in the Park

Mar 10, 2017

The Vancouver Park Board has voted to stop displaying live cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park, a real turning point in the history of the city.

Cetaceans have been part of the Aquarium since the first killer whale was captured in 1964 and an enormous amount of pathbreaking research has been done there into the biology and social life of the animals. The Aquarium itself became the number one visitor attraction in the city, largely due to the exposure it offered to live orcas (formerly), belugas and dolphins. I would imagine the end of the captive cetacean program will be a major blow to the facility.

If you are interested in the history of cetaceans in the park I recommend an essay by UVic historian Jason Colby reviewing the history of cetacean captivity in Vancouver. The issue has been a controverial one almost from the beginning. Colby's essay is part of a new book called Animal Metropolis: History of Human-Animal Relations in Urban Canada.