Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre

VANCOUVER AQUARIUM MARINE SCIENCE CENTRE opened in STANLEY PARK in June 1956 as the Vancouver Aquarium, the first public aquarium in Canada. Operated by a non-profit society, it displays more than 8,000 specimens of aquatic life, runs public education programs and does marine research. Since 1964, when it became the first aquarium to have a KILLER WHALE in captivity, it has been home to several of them and in 1990 opened a new habitat for its resident beluga WHALES. Although it features marine life from the Pacific Northwest and the Arctic, the aquarium also houses displays on the Amazon and the S Pacific. Bill REID's dramatic sculpture Killer Whale was unveiled on the entrance plaza in 1984. The facility has had 2 directors: Murray NEWMAN (1956–93) and John Nightingale (1993–present). In 1998, when it drew 820,000 visitors, it changed its name to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and in 1999 opened the Pacific Canada Pavilion, profiling marine life in GEORGIA STRAIT. The question of whether whales and other large marine mammals should be kept in captivity has provoked controversy since the 1970s. In Jan 1999, after much debate and a referendum to Vancouver voters, the city and the aquarium agreed that no cetacean would be removed from its wild habitat and brought into Stanley Park, except those animals born in captivity, already living in captivity, or brought in under special circumstances. In 2001 the last killer whale, Bjossa, was removed to another facility.