Baby beluga belongs in deep blue sea

By Michael Alvarez-Toye

Editor, the Gauntlet,

[Re: “Lions and Belugas and Polar Bears (oh my!),” editorial, Aug. 3, 2006]

The Calgary Zoo has tainted its reputation over the past few years, first with the attempt to impregnate an immature elephant, and now with an even more irresponsible decision to re-introduce polar bears and introduce beluga whales here. On this I agree entirely with opinions editor Kate Foote.

However, it is even more than being in agreement here that I respond to the editorial, since it has been established through numerous peer reviewed studies that both of these species suffer greatly from being kept in captivity, something that the zoo directors choose to ignore, preferring to claim that the decision is based on conservation aims even as they are hoping to cash in on the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

The Calgary Animal Rights Coalition has previously had a good working relationship with the zoo, recognizing that for the most part, it was a facility that provided excellent resources for the rehabilitation of wildlife as well as a refuge for animals no longer able to be re-introduced into the wild. Now we can no longer say that, since the new direction of the zoo takes it from this mandate, absorbed as it seemingly is in making the zoo an entertainment venue, first and foremost.

We are not alone in this view; the previous zoo director has also voiced his opposition to bringing back polar bears and bringing belugas. A poll had been conducted earlier this year indicating that over 70 per cent of the public also sides with us in this regard.

Armed with these numbers, we have started a petition to pressure the city and the province to add conditions to the money they have offered the zoo, specifically the cessation of this plan of theirs to bring these animals here to Calgary. We will be making this a key goal of ours, to force the zoo into being more responsible for the well-being of those in its charge and to make decisions that favour the animals over the egos of the people running the zoo.

Michael Alvarez-Toye,

Spokesperson, Calgary Animal Rights Coalition

To get more information about where you can sign the petition, contact Mr. Alvarez-Toye at this address

Leave a comment