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Vancouver Aquarium to close indefinitely

Camille Labchuk (Animal Justice): The Vancouver Aquarium would be wise to fully transition into a sanctuary, where the best interests of the animals come first.

IAN BAILEY: For the first time in its 64-year history, the Vancouver Aquarium is closing to the public indefinitely – a shutdown linked to the financial challenges of COVID-19… The aquarium leaders are trying to figure out how to operate with challenges that include an 80-per-cent drop in ticket sales.

The staff who remain will take care of the animals in the Stanley Park facility, which opened in 1956… At least 75 specialized staff are to remain, caring for about 70,000 animals. Some creatures, such as the sea lions, seals and rescue otters, relish contact with people, he said…

“We’re not closing for good. We’re taking a pause for public programs,” Mr. Gustavsson said, saying education programs will continue. “The animals aren’t going anywhere.” The aquarium now has to figure out how to offer an inspiring experience to visitors who need to be safe.

“I have no illusion we would be able to continue with business as usual,” Mr. Gustavsson said… “There’s not a single aquarium in North America that is open and making money at the moment. The whole aquarium industry will have to revamp and transform itself into something that is attractive for visitors and safe during pandemic times”…

Animal-rights activist Jeff Matthews, formerly with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said in an interview that he hoped the aquarium leaders will listen to a wide variety of voices in their review… He pointed to a “sanctuary model” in which whales, dolphins and other creatures live in a more natural marine environment.

Camille Labchuk, an animal-rights lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice, an advocacy organization, also raised the sanctuary model. “There’s an emerging social consensus that animals deserve better than being confined and exploited in zoos and aquariums, which is why Canada outlawed whale and dolphin captivity last year,” she said. “The Vancouver Aquarium would be wise to embrace this change, and fully transition into a sanctuary, where the best interests of the animals come first”.  SOURCE…

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