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BC SPCA opens investigations into Vancouver Aquarium and zoo after Humane Society complaint

The humane society has raised concerns about the living conditions for animals at the two attractions
A tiger at the Greater Vancouver Zoo is seen pacing in a video from the Vancouver Humane Society.

The BC SPCA has launched investigations into the Vancouver Aquarium and Greater Vancouver Zoo after the organization received complaints from the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) about animals' living conditions at both places.

VHS has brought forth concerns about behaviour shown in a variety of animals living at both the aquarium in Stanley Park and zoo in Aldergrove. In a video they've posted they point to a variety of animals' actions recorded as recently as February 2022.

"[The footage] reveals a lion endlessly pacing along the fence that separates him from his captive pride; African penguins, unable to escape public view, huddling for long periods of time around a door in their enclosure; sea otters repeatedly trying to peel back the edges of their tank; a Steller sea lion abnormally sucking on the ground," VHS says in a press release.

The BC SPCA has confirmed to Vancouver Is Awesome that the organization is in the early stages of investigating the complaint, but can't comment further on the specific cases. The organization notes it does respond to every complaint and open investigation.

The Vancouver Aquarium says it's working proactively on the situation.

"The Vancouver Aquarium became aware of a complaint to the BC SPCA through a public statement made earlier today," the aquarium says in a statement. "We take this very seriously, as ensuring the highest standards in animal care, health and well-being are the aquarium’s founding principles. No formal inquiry has been received related to this matter; however, we have reached out to the BC SPCA and are currently working with them to arrange a walk-through of our facility."

The Vancouver Aquarium notes they were the first aquarium in the world to get a Humane Certification from the American Humane Society.

The BC SPCA has investigated both organizations in the past; the zoo in 2020, when an emaciated moose was euthanized, and the aquarium in 2018. In past cases, the situations were satisfactorily resolved or there wasn't enough evidence for things to proceed.

In 2006 charges were recommended in a case at the zoo regarding Hasina the Hippo and the small pond she was in. In 2007 the charges were stayed as a new facility was built.

In 2019 the VHS commissioned a report critical of the zoo for similar reasons as the recent complaint.

A representative for the Greater Vancouver Zoo provided the following statement to V.I.A. on March 11: "We have been made aware of an opinion piece regarding our park. The Greater Vancouver Zoo takes the health and welfare of animals very seriously.  As a CAZA and WAZA accredited facility we meet and exceed all provincial and federal requirements."