Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums announce major marine mammal study

OTTAWA, July 6, 2015 /CNW/ - One of Canada's leading marine biologists has been retained by Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) to conduct a major study of cetaceans in captivity.  

Dr. David Rosen of the UBC Marine Mammal Research Unit will lead a team examining the determinants of cetacean wellbeing such as pool size and design, social groupings and interaction, training, water quality and food, with the goal of making recommendations for evidence-based standards of care.

Dr. Rosen is the author of the Report on Standards of Care for Marine Mammals in Captivity prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. 

"The goal of the study is to provide an evidence-based grounding for the development of made-in Canada standards of care for belugas, orcas and other cetaceans in captivity," said CAZA president Clint Wright.  "It will address our concerns with the scientific foundations of the Government of Ontario's current approach to the development of standards of care for cetaceans in captivity."

Wright has written to Community Safety and Correctional Services minister Naqvi urging him to reconsider the timelines for completion of the Ontario standards of care to take into account this new research (see attached).

This study will be completed in two phases: the first phase will consist of a literature review and will scope out the field research parameters and methodology; the second phase will involve the actual field research, report writing and recommendations.  

The first phase is to be completed by December 2015 while the second part of the study will be completed by July 2016. 

Wright said that "CAZA's objectives are twofold: ensuring that development of public policy is informed by scientific inquiry and verifiable best practices; and developing robust made-in-Canada standards of care that can serve as a model worldwide." 

CAZA is the national organization representing Canada's accredited zoological facilities.

 

July 6, 2015

 

Honourable Yasir Naqvi
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
George Drew Building
18th Floor
25 Grosvenor St.
Toronto, ON 
M7A 1Y6

Dear Minister:

I am writing to inform you that Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) has retained Dr. David Rosen of the UBC Marine Mammal Research Unit to conduct a study of the determinants of cetacean welfare in captivity.  

Dr. Rosen will lead a team that will examine determinants of cetacean wellbeing such as pool size and design, social groupings and interaction, training, water quality and nutrition. The purpose of this study is to provide an evidence-based grounding for the development of made-in-Canada standards of care for belugas, orcas and other cetaceans in captivity.  Specifically, Dr. Rosen's findings and recommendations will inform the development of CAZA's standards of care and accreditation and, it is our hope, the development of Ontario's own standards.   

As you will recall, in a letter to you last May we raised a number of concerns with the Ontario government's approach to the development of standards for marine mammals, notably with the timelines for completion of the process.  We believe that these timelines preclude a true "made in Ontario" approach based on the identification and empirical validation of international standards and best practices, notably with respect to pool size and geometry.  

While Dr. Rosen's inquiry will extend past the timeframe identified for the Ontario process, we urge you to reconsider it in order to account for this important new research.  Absent any animal welfare force majeure, we believe that the prudent and responsible approach to the development of standards of care involves undertaking a thorough scientific review of the data related to cetacean wellbeing.

Regards,

Clint Wright
President
Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums  

 

SOURCE Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA)

For further information: Massimo Bergamini, (613) 290-5317, or by e-mail: mbergamini@interchangepa.com

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