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Dr. Jane Goodall is renowned for her commitment to the conservation and protection of primates, but she is now stepping up in defense of captive whales and dolphins too!

Dr. Goodall issued a letter to the park board chairman and commissioner of the Vancouver Aquarium calling for an end to their captive breeding and leasing programs. The aquarium made a commitment to stop catching cetaceans from the wild and putting them on display back in 1996, but the continuation of their captive breeding program does not follow with their presumed interest in the well-being of wild animals.

In the letter, Goodall busts open the myth that “science” is in support of the capture and captivity of wild cetaceans. The Vancouver Aquarium not only has perpetuated cruel captive breeding programs, but they also actively lease animals raised on their facility to SeaWorld. How this could be regarded as being in the best interest of any wild animal is a mystery to me.

In the words of Goodall, “The idea that certain cetaceans ‘do better’ in captivity than others is also misleading, as belugas, dolphins and porpoises are highly social animals which can travel in large pods and migrate long distances.”

Having studied the intricate behaviors of animals in their natural habitat, Goodall knows full-well how devastating captivity can be to wild animals and given the growing movement against these cruel programs, the end of Vancouver Aquarium’s captive cetacean program seems a natural progression.

Goodall has received criticism from Clint Wright, the vice president of the Vancouver Aquarium, who asserts he does not believe Goodall has ample information to assess the well-being of the aquarium’s animals. But the fact remains, a captive cetacean is no different then any other captive animal. Once we begin to see all the animals we hold captive as equals with each other and ourselves, a real change will finally come about.

Click here to read the full letter and share your opinion on the matter with the Vancouver Aquarium. Ending wild capture was just the first step, ending captive breeding and the lease of SeaWorld should be the final.

Image source: Floatjon/Wikipedia Commons 

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