Vancouver Aquarium Among Over 60 Aquariums Around the World Being Told to Empty the Tanks May 7th.
Empty the Tanks is a worldwide movement to end the captivity of cetaceans in aquariums with their main event taking place May 7th of each year. This year the organization has stated that over 60 demonstrations will be held in 22 different countries at various aquariums from Russia to Mexico, Hong Kong, across the U.S. and Canada, and more.
Last year upwards of 300 people attended the Empty the Tanks demonstration at the Vancouver Aquarium. With demonstrators disrupting a performance inside the aquarium while hundreds lined the entrance outside holding signs and speaking out against keeping whales and dolphins in captivity, it was both a peaceful and at times intense day of activism.
Empty the Tanks Vancouver organizer Jeff Matthews commented that with the turnout growing each year, this year could be even larger. “Every year, we see new faces at Empty the Tanks, people who have recently come to realize that they’ve been tricked into believing whales and dolphins can really be happy in these tiny, artificial tanks”
This year a larger crowd could certainly be the case with the high profile documentary Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered bringing to light corruption within the Aquarium. It also reveals the high mortality rate of the Vancouver Aquariums captive breeding program and the cruelty of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity for entertainment. Recently, the Vancouver Aquarium took the filmmaker Gary Charbonneau to court to have the film taken down, but this has backfired significantly on the Aquarium as interest in the film has increased significantly since the case began.
Several years ago the documentary Blackfish created tidal waves throughout the captive whale and dolphin industry, changing the way people saw the aquariums and performances that were once adored by many. Now largely condemned as inhumane and exploitative, more pressure than ever is on aquariums to change their practices and empty their tanks.
Victoria Animal News requested an interview with the Vancouver Aquarium regarding tomorrow’s demonstration and was told that there was “no one who could comment.”
Despite the high profile nature of the event among animal activist and advocacy organizations, what impresses Matthews is the degree to which people outside of the activist community come out. “Empty the Tanks is unique among animal rights protests in Vancouver, in that it attracts such a diverse crowd – lots of families and parents feel it is important to be there.”
Even with hundreds of people standing in protest of the Vancouver Aquarium people still continue to cross the line into the aquarium. However, Matthews states that there are always a few who turn back. “The most satisfying part is watching people who had planned a visit to the aquarium change their mind after speaking with someone in the crowd. It happens a few times each year, and it’s really motivating to keep us coming back.”
Empty the Tanks Vancouver begins at 11am outside the Vancouver Aquarium and goes until 1pm. You can visit the event page here. A road trip has also been planned for Victoria and Island based activists to join the demonstration through Island Animal Liberation.
For more information on what the Vancouver Aquarium continues to try and hide from the public you can visit Van Aqua Facts.
Victoria Animal News