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Vancouver Aquarium Forced to Give Up On Whale & Dolphin Captivity

Animal Justice January 18, 2018

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Aquarium announced today that it would give up on its decades-long fight to continue to imprison and display whales and dolphins in tiny tanks.

Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice, issued the following statement.

“The Vancouver Aquarium appears to have finally accepted that whale and dolphin captivity is no longer socially acceptable in Canada. Today’s announcement is a tremendous victory for the thousands of compassionate citizens who stood up against the cruel practice of keeping smart, sentient whales and dolphins imprisoned in tiny tanks.

“But the Aquarium’s new position comes extremely late in the game. For decades, the Aquarium has fought tooth and nail against attempts to restrict or prohibit whale and dolphin captivity at its facility. The Aquarium is now backing down from this fight, but only after years of being the target of protests, being embroiled in lawsuits, and hit with a ban on cetacean captivity imposed by Vancouver’s Park Board.

“The writing is on the wall for the whale and dolphin captivity industry. We are relieved that no more cetaceans will suffer and die at the Aquarium.”

The Aquarium recently lost a court case seeking to silence filmmaker Gary Charbonneau and his critical documentary Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered.

The Aquarium is still suing the Park Board in an attempt to overturn the anti-captivity by-law, claiming it restricts the Aquarium’s freedom of expression. Animal Justice intervened in that case, which has already been heard. The judge in that case is expected to issue a ruling shortly.

A bill moving through the Canadian Senate would impose a nation-wide ban on keeping whales and dolphins in captivity. It is expected to be voted on when Parliament resumes later this month.

Meanwhile, several whales and dolphins recently died at the Aquarium, including beluga whales Qila and Aurora in late 2016, porpoise Daisy in June, 2017, and false killer whale Chester in November, 2017. The only surviving cetacean at the Aquarium is a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Helen.

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

 

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Animal Justice

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Animal Protection Groups Ask to Intervene in Vancouver Aquarium Lawsuit

Animal Justice August 16, 2017

VANCOUVER – Animal Justice and Zoocheck are seeking leave at the British Columbia Supreme Court to intervene in the Vancouver Aquarium’s lawsuit against the Vancouver Park Board. The Aquarium is suing in an attempt to overturn the bylaw banning the Aquarium from confining whales, dolphins, and porpoises in its facility in Stanley Park.

Animal Justice is a national animal law non-profit that leads the legal fight for animals in Canada. Zoocheck is a Canadian-based international charity that works to protect wild animals in captivity and in the wild. The two organizations filed a joint intervention application this week.

Animal Justice and Zoocheck are deeply troubled by the Aquarium’s legal arguments, in particular the claim that its practice of confining cetaceans in captivity is a form of expression protected under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If confining animals in captivity is found to be a constitutionally-protected form of expression, there could be drastic consequences for animals. It would become difficult, if not impossible, to pass laws protecting animals from being confined as those laws would be vulnerable to legal challenge.

If granted leave to intervene, Animal Justice and Zoocheck will submit to the court that the capture, captivity, and confinement of cetaceans should not be considered ‘expression’. The organizations rely on well-established case law stating that expression that is violent or is connected with violence is not protected by section 2(b) of the Charter. Capturing and confining whales and dolphins are forms of violence, in that they involve the coercion and involuntary captivity of living beings who have complex thought, the ability to suffer, and the capacity for self-determination. Confining cetaceans has been shown to cause significant physical and psychological harm to them.

“The Aquarium’s freedom of expression claim in this troubling lawsuit could permanently undermine animal protection laws right across Canada,” said Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice.  “We hope to have an opportunity to explain this to the court.”

Animal Justice and Zoocheck are represented by lawyers Arden Beddoes of Farris Vaugh Wils & Murphy LLP, and Benjamin Oliphant of Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP.

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The Animal Justice and Zoocheck application to intervene can be downloaded here.

The Aquarium’s petition can be downloaded here.

The Parks Board’s response to the petition can be downloaded here.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director, Animal Justice
camille@animaljustice.ca

Julie Woodyer
Campaigns Director
julie@zoocheck.com

Animal Justice

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Animal Justice Intervening in Vancouver Aquarium Copyright Appeal at BC Court of Appeal

Animal Justice March 19, 2017

VANCOUVER – National animal law organization Animal Justice will argue before the BC Court of Appeal on Monday as an intervener in an important appeal that could affect the ability of animal advocates to film, expose, and publicize animal cruelty in Canada.

The case is an appeal from a decision of the BC Supreme Court in a lawsuit filed by the Vancouver Aquarium against filmmaker Gary Charbonneau over his documentary Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered, which exposes the cruelty of keeping sentient whales and dolphins in captivity at the Aquarium. The Aquarium sued Mr. Charbonneau for alleged copyright violations, and sought an injunction to remove the film from the internet. In April 2016, the injunction judge ordered that several minutes of footage must be removed from the film.

Legal experts have called the Aquarium’s lawsuit an abuse of copyright law and an illegitimate attempt to silence free speech on a matter of public importance. The BC Court of Appeal granted Mr. Charbonneau leave to appeal the injunction.

Animal Justice will intervene to argue that if the injunction decision is not overturned, secretive animal use industries will be emboldened to file illegitimate copyright lawsuits to silence animal advocates. This could prevent them from investigating, documenting, and exposing hidden animal cruelty. The BC Civil Liberties Association is also intervening in the appeal.

Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice, will be available for comment following the appeal, along with Mr. Charbonneau and his lawyer Arden Beddoes.

Animal Justice is represented by Bryan McLean of Lindsay LLP.

What:
The BC Court of Appeal will hear arguments in the case of Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre v. Gary Charbonneau

When:
Monday, March 20, 2017
Supporters of Mr. Charbonneau will gather at 9:00 a.m. outside the courthouse for a rally
Court begins at 10:00 a.m. PT

Where:
BC Court of Appeal, Room 60
900 Smithe Street, Vancouver

Who:
Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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