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Rally to be held Vancouver Aquarium supporters ahead of Park Board’s vote on cetaceans

Vancouver Aquarium supporters will be holding a rally Monday night ahead of the pivotal vote by the Vancouver Park Board to amend the wording of a bylaw governing importation and display of live cetaceans at the aquarium.

Supporters of the aquarium say marine mammals who can no longer survive in the wild deserve a second chance at life, but a proposed bylaw from the park board would ban all cetaceans from Vancouver parks and by extension, the Vancouver Aquarium. They say the decision would put the future of marine mammal rescue at risk and jeopardize the fate of those animals in need of a new place to call home.

READ MORE: Vancouver Park Board will ‘leave cetaceans to die a death on the beach’: Aquarium

But the park board has previously stated the proposed by-law amendments will have a minimal impact on the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, as most of the rescued mammals are harbour seals and cetaceans represent a tiny percentage of all of the marine mammals rescued since the program began.

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The park board says recommended amendments provide for the continuing care and display of the three existing cetaceans at Vancouver Aquarium, but prohibit any performance or show. The three existing cetaceans are grandfathered and do not need to be removed from the Vancouver Aquarium.

The aquarium claims more than 11,000 letters have been sent asking the park board to reconsider its position.

The park board will be holding a final vote on the proposed ban at 7 p.m. Monday night. If the amendments are approved in the board’s meeting tonight, it will consider the enactment of by-law amendments at that time.

The rally in support of the Vancouver Aquarium will be held at the Stanley Park Ceperly Playground at Second Beach, at Lagoon Drive and Beach Avenue at 6:30 p.m. Nearly 400 people have indicated on the event’s Facebook page they plan to attend.

Meanwhile, those opposing cetaceans being held in captivity held their own rally on Saturday for the fifth consecutive year.

READ MORE: Protesters call for ban on cetacean captivity days ahead of pivotal vote

The Empty the Tanks rally is an annual event held at sites across the globe demanding aquariums and marine parks release whales, dolphins and porpoises held captive for the purposes of research, education or entertainment.

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–With files from Jill Slattery