The Vancouver Aquarium is dedicated to providing a living bridge to our global ocean heritage for current and future generations of British Columbians. The one-thousand plus scientists, veterinarians, staff and volunteers who work at the Aquarium are ever-mindful of this commitment to our community. At the heart of this commitment are both our dedication to ocean conservation and education, and the covenant we hold for the marine mammals in our care.
- We do not and will not capture whales and dolphins from the wild: In 1996, we became the first aquarium in the world to make a commitment to no longer capture cetaceans from the wild for display.
- Our efforts are guided by our own 3Rs – Rescue, Rehabilitate and Release: The Vancouver Aquarium operates the only rescue facility in Canada with the skills and expertise to conduct cetacean rescues in the wild, like reuniting orphaned killer whale Springer with her pod in 2002, rescuing stranded killer whale Sam in 2013, rescuing and rehabilitating harbour porpoise Levi in 2013, and conducting ongoing disentanglement efforts with sea lions on B.C.’s coast. With every rescue, our team works around the clock to rehabilitate the animal with the goal of reintroducing it to the wild. Each year, we succeed in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing up to 100 marine mammals back into their natural environment.
- We will only host cetaceans in our care that are unable to live in the wild: This includes animals born in human care or rescued animals. For a rescued animal to remain at the Aquarium they must be deemed non-releasable by an arms-length, third party scientific body or panel. All stranded marine mammals in our care at the Aquarium have either sustained injuries that would put them at a great disadvantage in the wild or they lack the life skills to survive on their own because they came to us at a very young age.
- We do not run a formal cetacean breeding program but we also will not segregate the animals from the normal, social groupings that occur in nature: We work hard to create the best possible conditions for all of the animals in our care. This includes maintaining whales and dolphins in social groups which occasionally results in mating behaviours. This is what healthy, happy animals do.
- We will apply the knowledge we learn from the animals in the Aquarium to the natural kingdom from which they come: The knowledge and insight gained by the Aquarium in taking care of whales and dolphins is vital to understanding what the world needs to do to have any hope of maintaining populations in the wild. Caring for these animals daily generates unique insights into animal behaviour, and enhances the unique skills and scientific knowledge coming from our focused research allows us to play an expert informative role in protecting Canada’s wild marine mammal populations. We share this knowledge with the world in the hope for healthy oceans, ecosystems and ocean animal populations.
Learn more about our marine mammal rescue and research commitments and support our conservation efforts here.