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Fate Of Puget Sound Orcas Hangs In The Balance

posted on December 20, 2005

Fate Of Puget Sound Orcas Hangs In The Balance

December 18, 2005 (Bellingham Herald)

Researchers estimate that as many as 100 orcas [actually at least 120] used to ply the inland waters south of Vancouver Island looking for now-threatened chinook salmon, their dietary mainstay. But by 1976, the population dropped to 68 after years of marine park captures killed at least 13 whales [and delivered 45 to marine parks], according to the Center for Whale Research.

Lolita is the last surviving orca of about 45 southern resident whales captured. She lives at the Miami (Fla.) Seaquarium.

The 2005 population count is back up to 90 whales [now at 87], according to the center, but the condition of their environment may hinder their chances for survival.

"To see them - they are beautiful and graceful to look at," says Bob Lohn, the northwest regional administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service. "They are creatures that in some way we can identify with because they have language, curiosity, feelings, intelligence." And they are mysterious.

Little is known about where the southern resident orcas spend their winters or how they breed, Lohn says. The endangered listing should help funnel more money into much-needed studies. [Please call 1-866-ORCANET (866-672-2638) with whale sightings]

But researchers do know that the southern resident population travels in three family groups, the J, K and L pods. During summer months, the orcas can be seen in Haro Strait off the west coast of San Juan Island, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and in the Georgia Strait near the Fraser River.

"Once you've heard them, it's hard not to recognize them as a creature with emotions who is expressing them," he says.

What finally landed the southern residents on the endangered species list was the recent conclusion that they are different - their diet, territory and family units are distinct from even their close neighbors, the northern residents in Canada.

Other orcas, called transients, might come into resident whale territory, but they don't stick around for long, Lohn says. They often will enter Puget Sound while chasing a sea otter or sea lion meal. Those creatures aren't on the menu for the salmon-chomping resident whales.

Researchers also have learned that the resident whales have a unique language of chirps, squeals and whines, and even specific dialects within the individual pods. Southern residents are believed to return to the Puget Sound area every year because they are wired to follow local runs of threatened chinook salmon.

That uniqueness brings into sharp focus the precarious situation of the orcas, says Lohn. Once they're gone, other orcas won't take their place.

There are at least three official areas of concern: a dwindling supply of salmon for food, contaminants accumulating in whale blubber, and boats and ships physically interfering with whales and disturbing them with engine noise.

The deaths of 11 orcas from an Alaska pod - about half its members - have been blamed on the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill that dumped at least 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound.

"One incident like a major oil spill could wipe them out entirely," Hamilton says.

No More Zoos In Stanley Park

posted on November 1, 2005

Don't be Tricked Again. Bigger pools mean more captives. Expansion mean zoo animals. DO YOU WANT THE VANCOUVER AQUARIUM TO BRING IN MORE WHALES AND ZOO ANIMALS WHILE EXPANDING INTO MORE STANLEY PARK GREEN SPACE? If the Vancouver Aquarium expands again whales, dolphins and other animals will suffer while precious Stanley Park will be harmed.

1. The Parks Control Bylaw does not prohibit further importation of whales and dolphins. The watered-down bylaw allows this crime against nature to continue.
2. Aquarium expansions are restricted in the Lease Agreement. The Park Board must aprove it. However, the Vancouver Aquarium continues to gain more land. One major expansion, not publicly approved, was the fake salmon stream that doubled their land control while opening the area for more animal exhibits. The area was supposed to have been returned to green space.
3. The Aquarium expansions fail to phase out the captivity of whales and dolphins. Previous expansions did not improve conditions for the captives. Bigger pools mean more captive whales and other marine mammals. The ploy is to overcrowd in an attempt to get public sympathy. Future generations of free-living marine wildlife will continue to be exploited because the Aquarium Industry depends on wild captures and the barbaric international dolphin slave trade.
4. The proposed Aquarium Expansions would destroy acres of precious green space in Stanley Park. As a National Historic Site, Stanley Park is a free ecology classroom with a diversity of wildlife and natural habitats -a gift of nature providing a vital link between people and wildlife. Stanley Park is a true legacy and an urban sanctuary that is now threatened. It must be protected for future generations. We must stop further development in Stanley Park.
5. Government will fund this multi-million dollar circus instead of essential services to protect people, animals and the environment. Aquarium attendance numbers are meaningless since tourists are unaware of the hidden abuses.
6. Vancouver residents voted against a zoo in Stanley Park. The proposed Aquarium plans would expand their zoo business by imprisoning birds, beavers and other species associated with zoos.
7. The proposed Aquarium expansion will cause the continued physical suffering, psychological suffering and premature deaths of whales and dolphins. These sentient creatures continue to suffer for profit and entertainment. Inhumane breeding trades would continue to separate mothers and babies -it must be stopped.

Make your vote count for the animals and Stanley Park. The voiceless animals and Stanley Park are depending on you.

Vancouver Aquarium Expansion

posted on October 17, 2005


October 17, 2005

To: Vancouver Park Board Commissioners

From: Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Foundation

Re: To Expand or Not to Expand - That Should be the Referendum Question

The recent imprisonment of two more dolphins looks like they are up to their old tricks to overcrowd the dolphin pools in order to get public sympathy for a multi-million dollar aquarium expansion. The expansion would result in more dolphin suffering, new zoo animal prisons and the destruction of precious Stanley Park land.

Was this Board aware of this secret plan to bring in dolphins from Japan? If not, I urge you to ask them why the Board was not advised. What do they mean that it was a "staff safety" issue? Are the Aquarium spin-doctors trying to portray credible organizations that protect animals as terrorists? Are they trying to discredit their opposition to expand their dolphin slave trade business?

The self-righteous claims by Aquarium officials that they have public support to do what ever they want must be challenged with a referendum question. It doesn't matter how many visitors and tourists they can con. The tourists do not know the truth or there are those who would imprison their grandmothers to make a buck. The goal of the Aquarium and Zoo Industry is "Money Not Morals".

On one hand Aquarium claims "our ideal a grouping of six or seven animals, as they are a very social species." While on the other hand aquariums are not "oceans" that could provide enough space for complex cetacean social groups. They have never provided for the social and behavioural needs. White Wings, a Pacific white-sided dolphin, was kept with orcas not his own kind. Are they now admitting that they were wrong? Further, they continue to split up families due to abnormal aggression from overcrowding, for breeding and to continue the worldwide dolphin slave trade.

So the Vancouver Aquarium is now conducting experiments with notorious Japan? Under the guise of "scientific research" Japan continues to slaughter whales and dolphins to eat. Further, the Japanese fisheries brutally kill thousands of dolphins while aquariums take some to financially support this cruelty. Dolphins sent to Vancouver will be replaced by Japan capturing more wild dolphins. The Japanese government would obviously claim that the dolphins were not releasable. They imprison and eat dolphins - they don't release them. The Vancouver Aquarium would also claim that their captives couldn't be released.

Field studies on preventing net entanglement have been conducted for years. Lifeforce has also developed methods to keep cetaceans away from environmental hazards. Studies with captive dolphins would not depict actual problems and is not necessary.

Aquariums and zoos are claiming that they are great conservationists. They even steal and take credit for work that Lifeforce pioneered. For example, the Lifeforce Whale and Dolphin Hot Line have been taking calls for sightings, stranding and harassment for 13 years. The Vancouver Aquarium now gets lucrative government funding for a similar program.

The Vancouver Civic Election

The Vancouver Aquarium's imprisonment of dolphins and their proposed expansion must be dealt with during this election. The Aquarium has started with the Discovery Education Centre (freeing up space for new exhibits) and wants to be finished by the Winter Olympics. How much money has already been committed by the various government agencies that usually pay the bills?

If the Vancouver Aquarium expands again the dolphins and other animals will suffer while precious Stanley Park will be negatively impacted.

The referendum question should be:



1. Aquarium Expansions are not allowed in the Lease Agreement but the Aquarium gain more land through loopholes. The major expansion, not publicly approved, was the fake Salmon Stream that doubled their land control while opening the area for more animal exhibits. The area was supposed to have been returned to green space.

2. The Aquarium Expansions failed to phase out the captivity of whales and dolphins. Previous Expansions did not improve conditions for the captives. Bigger pools mean more captive whales and other marine mammals. Future generations of free-living marine wildlife will continue to be exploited because Aquariums depend on wild captures.

3. The proposed Aquarium Expansion would destroy acres of precious green space in Stanley Park. As a National Historic Site, Stanley Park is a free ecology classroom with a diversity of wildlife and natural habitats - a gift of nature providing a vital link between people and wildlife. The park is a true legacy and an urban sanctuary that is now threatened. Stanley Park must be protected for future generations.

4. Vancouver residents voted against a zoo in Stanley Park. The proposed Aquarium plans would expand their zoo business by imprisoning zoo species. The public had previously VOTED NO TO ZOOs!

5. The proposed Aquarium expansion will cause the continued physical suffering, psychological suffering and premature deaths of whales and dolphins. The Aquarium has stated that they would continue to imprison these sentient creatures for profit and entertainment. Inhumane breeding trades would continue to separate mothers and babies - it must be stopped.

This Board has the opportunity to protect the animals and Stanley Park. We urge you to put a Whale and Park Referendum question before the voters. The voiceless animals and Stanley Park are depending on you.

UCSF - 20 Years Of Animal Welfare Violations

posted on October 1, 2005

Throughout the 80s Lifeforce was the main organization investigating vivisection laboratories at home and abroad. Lifeforce Founder, Peter Hamilton, documented animal exploitation and violations of the minimal "standards". With extensive photographs and video he uncovered many hidden vivisection abuses. Several videos were produced to raise public awareness. Our documentation was presented to US government and enforcement agencies.

Lifeforce assisted in the investigation of primate research in Silver Spring. Maryland that led to the first charges against a US researcher. Lifeforce also laid the first private prosecution against a Canadian researcher who restrained wild caught baboons for four months. The use of baboons in his heart research was stopped.

In September, UCSF agreed to pay $92,500 to settle a complaint by filed last year by the US Department of Agriculture alleging 75 violations of the Animal Welfare Act in their animal labs between 2001 and 2003.

Among the USDA's complaints were gross loss of weight in primates subjected to "water restriction" so they would perform tasks; not administering adequate pain relief and performing a craniotomy on a monkey without post-surgical analgesia.

Lifeforce investigations in the 80s included UCSF and other UC facilities. It has been over twenty years and the abuses continue. The peer review system has failed to protect animals. The continued use of animal models wastes scarce health care funds.

(see Lifeforce Better Living section "Health Care and Research")

Beluga Death Should Be Deathblow To Dolphin Slave Trade

posted on July 18, 2005

The Vancouver based ecology organization, Lifeforce, is calling for an end to all dolphin imprisonment at the Vancouver Aquarium following the horrible death of a baby beluga in front of tearful children. "Lifeforce was instrumental in convincing the Vancouver Park Board to implement a partial ban on the import of cetaceans and hopes that this recent death will be a deathblow to the dolphin slave trade," stated Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Founder.

In captivity dolphins suffer physically and psychologically since their behavioral and social needs cannot be met in captivity. Cetaceans die prematurely as a result of being exploited for entertainment and research.

There has been the death of at least 25 cetaceans since the Aquarium started their dolphin slave trade. This includes belugas, orcas, narwhals and Pacific white-sided dolphins. The Vancouver Aquarium is part of the international trade in cetaceans.

The Aquarium is also directly responsible for threatening the future survival of the endangered Southern Orca Community. They started the orca show business in 1964 when they harpooned an orca to use as a model for a sculpture. At least 45 orcas were captured. This has resulted in the loss of a generation of orca and their newborns.

The Aquarium Industry's pet a beluga whale and swim with dolphins business is sending the wrong education message. People are being brainwashed into thinking that it is okay to dominate and get up close to animals in the wild. The Lifeforce Boater Awareness Program has found an increase in boaters pursuing and harassing orcas resulting from the "get close to nature" advertising.

Orca Recovery Plans

posted on March 17, 2005

Lifeforce, a Vancouver based ecology organization, has been protecting orcas for over twenty years. From captivity issues to cruel experiments to noise impacts we have been on the front line to protect them and other marine wildlife.

Both the Canadian and US governments are working on Orca Recovery Plans so Lifeforce has been providing documentation to aid in the development of such strategies. Our major concerns are the lack of emergency responses and the harmful boat traffic.

Emergency Responses

Any efforts to protect orcas must include emergency responses to environmental hazards and other life threatening situations.

Lifeforce is developing methods to keep orcas and other marine wildlife away from oil/chemical spills because nothing is presently planned to stop such exposures. Orcas have been subjected to oil spills in Southern Georgia Strait.

A Wildlife Emergency Response Team (that includes Lifeforce covering the Southern Georgia Strait) must be formed and be hired to be on standby. This team will address various emergency situations including any separation of orcas from there families (e.g.. Springer and Luna). Lifeforce must also be supported to be able to implement our methods in emergency situations and to train others to use the species-specific methods.

Note: Our paper "Oil and Chemical Resistant Whales, Otters and Birds?" that provides very important background information and future strategies is available upon request.

Boat Traffic Interference and Noise

Boat traffic is recognized as a major threat to orcas. As recent as August 2003, orca A60 was wounded by a propeller. Presently, there are far too many boats pursuing orcas all day long. Boat traffic can interrupt the lifestyles of orcas; cause psychological stress; affect immune systems making them more susceptible to illnesses; and cause physical injuries.

Commercial whale watching businesses must change their ways. Adding to the problem is the pleasure boater who thinks the companies are following the rules and they copy the irresponsible actions/violations of guidelines.

Lifeforce has drafted a discussion paper entitled "Boat Traffic Threats to Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca): A Model Whale Watching Plan for Endangered Orcas" (available upon request). This plan would implement major changes in eco tourism operations. It would help stop the present chaotic, continual presence of boats by designating Whale Watch Zones, No Whale Watch Zones and land-based "Orca Trails".

Read the Lifeforce Boat Traffic Harrassment PDF.

Ecology And Animal Rights

posted on February 15, 2005

Replacing the Children's Zoo with ecology programs about the diversity of wildlife living freely in Stanley Park would be a major step forward in recognizing the rights of animals and developing a more compassionate world. What is the present education message since petting zoos are far from the reality of factory farms in which many animals are inhumanely confined and slaughtered for food? Where is the compassion, when the cute babies grow up and end up on dinner plates?

Faced with tragic global changes and the lost of species everyday, we should realize that zoos and other animal-based industries do not instill a respect and understanding of the fragile web of life that forms our ecosystems. Imprisoned animals live in a vacuum. Ecology and animal rights links planet savers to how they can help try to mend this planet with a holistic approach. Ecology Centers, such as the one proposed in Stanley Park, can bring forward the message to solve problems by encompassing protection for people, animals and the environment.

For over 25 years, I have helped define the new Animal Rights Movement. As other "isms", such as racist and sexism, were finally opposed, it was time to stop speciesism. It was time to extend our circle of compassion to fellow creatures with whom we share this planet. The Animal Rights doctrine promotes Albert Schweitzer's and Mahatma Ghandi's principles of non-violence.

Previously, my ambition was to work for the betterment of humankind, but my life and my attitude towards non-human animals started to change after hearing about vivisection atrocities and going to the research laboratories at Vancouver General Hospital.

I witnessed rows and rows of dogs whose pleas for freedom had been silence by the maintenance staff that had burnt their vocal cords. Many of the dogs were slowly dieing from the experimental surgeries. When I asked, "What cures are you seeking?" the response was "no cure, just experiments". Later I would realize that there is a multi-billion dollar vivisection industry and "animal models" wastes animal's lives and scarce health care funds. Results from these "models" cannot be extrapolated to sick people because it is artificially induced and animal species react differently to the drugs and experiments.

I pondered the issue "Animal Welfare vs. Animal Rights" and sadly found that, while most welfarists have good intentions, they may perpetuate the animals' suffering and be manipulated by vested interests. To be "humane" is to try to reduce suffering and then continue to use then as commodities. Not even the basic freedoms - to stand, to sit, to lie down, to turn around and groom themselves - are mandated by self-policing, rubber-stamping "ethics" committees.

For centuries, those who fought against human injustices also championed the concept of Animal Rights. Philosophers from Jeremy Bentham who argued that "The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?" to many who presently believe that animals do have emotions and can reason.

All life is threatened by the ecological damage by animal exploiters who maintain that it has to be people versus animals. However, when we realize that we must right the animal wrongs it will bring a more peaceful world for all life.

Stanley Park Zoo History Walks

posted on February 12, 2005

To: Parks Board Commissioners

From: Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Foundation
Re: Self-guided Nature and History Walks

As part of the options to replace the Children's Zoo Lifeforce would like you to include our self-guided Stanley Park Nature and History Walk Program.

In the early 1990s, the ten Lifeforce self-guided Nature and History Walks were enthusiastically received by thousands of people. I would like to propose that Parks Board staff and Lifeforce work together to update and revise the brochures. A previous staff report stated that existing "educational programs" are sold to offset costs. Therefore, the Lifeforce brochures would also help provide revenue through "on-site park sales".

Lifeforce also has a photo library for educational displays in the proposed Ecology Centre. Lifeforce has previously used these historic photos and wildlife images in the Lifeforce Ecology Centre.

Instead of spending money on zoos we must spend the scarce time and money on protecting natural ecosystems. Existing conservation and rehabilitation programs throughout the world have helped save endangered species in spite of zoo captures that have decimated wildlife populations. The updated Stanley Park Nature and History Walk will provide information about protecting threatened ecosystems for present and future generations.

In the past, when the cute babies grew up they were abused at auctions and slaughtered for food. Few idyllic farmyards presently exist because factory farms imprison animals in inhumane conditions. These zoos do not educate people about this cruel and unhealthy practise. It is morally wrong to poke and traumatize animals in petting zoos. This speciesism promotes the attitude that humans can dominate other creatures for our amusement. It hinders developing an ecologically responsible world.

Stanley Park is a free ecology classroom in which we can teach others about the diversity of natural fauna and flora in Stanley Park. The park should be free of all animal prisons and the animals should be free. This program has been praised as a wonderful blend of Stanley Park's History with incredible wildlife experiences. The program would instil a respect for and understanding of the intricate, fragile web of life that so desperately needs protection.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Petting Zoos

posted on February 10, 2005

The citizens voted to end the abuses of imprisoned animals in Stanley Park. While most of the prisons were demolished the pro-zoo forces kept their lucrative jobs by increasing the number of animals in the children's zoo."Stanley Park zoo may be put out to pasture, Feb 10"

No education value here while they try to portray an idyllic farmyard when in fact the factory farming system brutally confines and slaughter millions of animals every year. Lifeforce exposed this zoo's previous practise of sending animals to horrible auctions when the cute babies grew up and no longer attracted customers.

There is a diversity of natural wildlife in Stanley Park that can be freely enjoyed without spending millions of dollars on animal prisons. Let's finally end the captivity of animals and this archaic zoo.

For freedom,

Peter Hamilton


Pit Bulls

posted on January 10, 2005

If the present Animal Control Bylaw regarding vicious dogs was enforced then people and animals would have had better protection.

I fought for these amendments when there was an increase in dog attacks by pit bulls. It is not only the owners, but also the species that can be genetically manipulated to be vicious fighting machines. If breeders try to remove these dangerous traits they would be creating a different species and therefore have agreed with Lifeforce that the vicious type should be banned. Pit bulls are unpredictable and can snap at any time.

Our society must not condone the exploitation of any animal. In a compassionate society, we must protect the rights of animals to be able to live without fear and suffering. We must protect people from vicious people who want vicious dogs. The City of Vancouver must strengthen and enforce the Animal Control Bylaw.

Peter Hamilton

Lifeforce Founder