But, according to new documents obtained by the Straight, this isn't entirely true. Not only did the aquarium assist with international planned breeding programs, it also participated in the effort to capture 18 wild belugas off the coast of Russia and import them to the U.S. along with several other aquariums, SeaWorld included.
Vancouver Aquarium provided assistance to Georgia Aquarium when it applied for a permit to import the 18 whales, and is listed on the permit application. Vancouver Aquarium's involvement is particularly egregious knowing that in 1996, the aquarium made a public pledge never to participate in wild whale captures, even declaring that it would ensure its activities did not result in other facilities capturing wild whales, either. The beluga permit was eventually denied by NOAA in August 2013.
These two incongruities -- the participation in breeding programs with other facilities and the participation in the planning of wild-caught whales -- are alarming for animal advocates, who say the flip-flopping and lack of transparency is a huge problem. But thanks to the new ruling by the Park Board, hopefully the days of shady cetacean business dealings are behind the Vancouver Aquarium.