When Gary Charbonneau went to the 2014 Vancouver Park Board Public Hearing on Whales in Captivity, something didn’t sit right with him. “I was concerned with the lack of information the aquarium presented, including questionable statements so I decided to investigate.” This became the impetus for Charbonneau’s second film, Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered. His first is a documentary on human nature entitled 14CM
The film describes itself as “A must see film exposing the truth and reality of whales and dolphins in captivity. Experts blow the whistle on Vancouver Aquarium’s hidden secrets.”
While the film has been met by much enthusiasm by animal advocates against the captivity of cetaceans in aquariums of this type around the world, the Vancouver Aquarium has taken steps to defend itself from claims against its ongoing entertainment programs.
On a new blog developed seemingly in response to the film they state ” This video is not a documentary, as it’s not grounded in truth. Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre invests millions of dollars each year on its conservation, research, rescue and education programs. Egregious claims that state otherwise in a video made and circulated by anti-conservation detractors are clearly untrue.”
However, Charbonneau is happy to defend his film and recognizes the weaknesses in the Vancouver Aquarium’s arguments.
“The aquarium defends itself by equivocation and avoids the facts in the film. I ask the aquarium and their advocates for meaningful dialogue and to present studies/data that contradict my findings but so far nothing. I have been warned on a few occasions to be careful, Vancouver Aquarium is a large corporation with many partners in oil, mining etc. and with millions of dollars at stake, they have been known to intimidate. It’s important to note, I have offered the aquarium the opportunity to discuss this publicly whereby they can select the date and number of speakers but they haven’t replied.”
Furthermore, Charbonneau believes that his documentary is more than just a investigation of the Vancouver Aquarium he challenges it to build on the positive work they already do, but which they have been under-funding, such as rescue and conservation work.
“Vancouver needs a true innovative science centre and my goal is to remove outdated practices and have the aquarium re-invest in the very areas they’ve reduced spending such as education, research and conservation. In addition, they acquired 100 million for expansion purposes and allocated nothing to the struggling rescue centre, this is completely unacceptable.”
When asked what he thinks it will take to shut down the the Vancouver Aquariums under its current focus of operations he replied that ultimately it is in the hands of the public. “What will shut it down is public pressure on the aquarium and Park Board Commissioners. They’re doing in the U.S with Sea World so it can happen here.” However, he also acknowledges the goal of the film is educating the public to make informed decisions. “The one message is that the Vancouver public has been deceived.”
Tonight, Vancouver Island Vegan Associations’ UVic chapter the UVic Vegan Club and Island Animal Liberation are hosting a screening of the film at 6:30pm in the Michael Pujol room in the Student Union Building. Everyone is invited to attend and admission is by donation with all proceeds going to the filmmaker, Charbronneau.