Breaking News: Seal Pups in Quebec Aquarium Safe from Slaughter

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Aquarium des Îles plans to release two seal pups at sea in response to public outrage at impending kill

After public outcry in response to Friends of Animals’ September 14thaction alert urging the public to demand that the Aquarium des Îles in Quebec, Canada, stop its senseless plan to slaughter two seal pups, Zak and Mika, whom they’d captured last spring, the Aquarium has released a statement today.

Aquarium officials say they have “received confirmation from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that [they] had the permission to release its two harp seals at sea. We therefore intend to proceed to the release of the seals at sea as soon as possible, while taking care to ensure their good health and welfare meanwhile.”

Friends of Animals will continue to press the Aquarium for documentation and proof of the impending release of the seals as well as ensure this never happens again. In the meantime, please continue to contact both the Aquarium and the Honourable Keith Ashfield (the Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) to insist that the seals be safely released and that any future permits to capture seals be denied. 

It’s irresponsible and disgraceful for the Aquarium to capture seal pups at all, but to capture them with the intent to kill them once its season ends cannot be tolerated. Thanks to your phone calls and emails, the Aquarium has reversed this cruel plan, but we need to make sure that they follow through with releasing the seals and that they commit to ending plans to ever capture seal pups again.

Please call the Honorable Keith Ashfield’s office at 613-992-3474 and email him at

Call the Aquarium des Îles to leave a message at 418-937-2277 and email them at

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Iles-de-la-Madeleine harp seals spared after worldwide outcry

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One of two seals at the Aquarium des Iles who were set to be killed because they could not be released into the wild. They have been given a reprieve, but petitioners will need to raise $73,000 by next week.

The fate of two harp seals at an aquarium in the Iles-de-la-Madeleine has raised an international outcry, with more than 124,000 people from around the world signing an 11th hour petition to save them.

Originally slated to be killed Saturday, the strength of the opposition has led the Aquarium to spare six-month-old pups Zak and Mika – for now.

But it is still not clear who will take care of the seals, and at whose expense.

Every spring for the last 25 years, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans catches two whitecoat harp seals to put on display at the aquarium in the Iles-de-la-Madeleine, to be released back into the wild when the aquarium closes in the fall.

But with new directives from the DFO this year barring their release because of concerns they may transmit disease to wild populations of seals and other animals, the aquarium planned to kill the two seals Saturday as it closed its doors for the fall and winter.

One of the workers at the aquarium alerted a wildlife rehabilitation centre on Saltspring Island, B.C., however, and the petition was born, drawing thousands of signatures a day for the past week.

In response, the Aquarium des Iles issued a statement Friday suggesting it could send the animals to Oceanopolis, a facility in Brest, Franceif those who signed the petition come up with the $73,000 needed to care for them in the meantime, by Sept. 21.

Wildlife organizations were not impressed.

“It feels a little like they’re taking the seals hostage – like a ransom note: “Now that you’re upset, give us some money or we’ll kill them,” said Michelle Cliffe, a spokesperson for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which is helping to organize the effort. “We think it’s the responsibility of an aquarium to have a plan and the finances to care for animals prior to taking on those animals.”

Cliffe said the sheer number of people that have signed on, from as far away as Russia and Greece and across the U.S., show that people do care about the animals, and so should the aquarium.

“The mandate of the aquarium is to educate the public about these animals, and create a bond with them,” Cliffe said. “It seems very strange and very sad that they would then destroy the very animals they are trying to educate people about – what is the message and what is the learning there?”

Aquarium directors could not be reached for comment yesterday. But a caretaker said it’s been “hell” for the last three days, as the fate of the seals is all anyone is talking about.

Cliffe said her organization is in contact with the DFO and is looking into whether there is a way to mitigate the medical risks of releasing the seals to the wild — the best, and cheapest solution.

Barring that the IFAW is also examining the conditions in which the seals would be cared for, both en route and at Oceanopolis. In terms of minimizing suffering, euthanasia may be preferable to putting the seals in a cage on an airplane for eight hours, she said.

But the situation raises bigger questions about why the DFO is capturing marine mammals to begin with — at taxpayers’ expense — and about the lack of legislation protecting marine mammals both in the wild and in captivity.

Based on the testimony of three workers at Marineland, the Toronto Star has published a series of stories highlighting the poor living conditions at that aquarium in Niagara Falls, and more than 76,000 people have now signed a petition calling on Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to enact laws and regulations to protect animals in zoos and aquaria.

The DFO stopped the capture of whales for the benefit of aquaria following recommendations made in 1999, Cliffe said. It should now stop capturing all marine mammals

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Parallels between seal and kangaroo slaughter: Canadian lawyer

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The slaughter of kangaroos in Australia is going largely unnoticed when compared with Canada’s widely condemned annual seal hunt, a prominent Canadian animal rights lawyer says.

Lesli Bisgould is embarking on a 12-stop tour of Australia, hosted by animal protection institute Voiceless, to highlight the plight of Australia’s icon.

For reference only

Voiceless says that the annual hunt of Australia’s kangaroos is the world’s largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife, with almost 90 million lawfully killed in the past 20 years.

By comparison, Canada’s harp seals are hunted in the world’s largest commercial slaughter of marine mammals, with almost 4 million killed lawfully in the past two decades.

This year, Voiceless will explore legal comparisons between the two hunts and the lessons Australia can learn from its Canadian counterpart in the 2012 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series, starting in Sydney on Wednesday.

Seals and kangaroos are both slaughtered away from the public eye and many suffer for long periods of time before death, Voiceless says.

Ms Bisgould will share her legal insights and experiences of the seal hunt while local speakers will provide a legal perspective on the commercial hunting of kangaroos.

With the two countries holding such similar records, the presentations will also explore the legal parameters of the hunts and what the public can do.

Ms Bisgould

Ms Bisgould was the first lawyer in Canada to specialise in animal rights, she wrote the first Canadian text on the subject and has lectured widely throughout Canada and the US.

She has challenged the Canadian government, questioning its justifications of the hunt.

She was co-counsel in two lengthy court cases. The first challenged the sale of seal penises as they contain a controlled substance, testosterone.

The second challenged the Canadian government’s efforts to thwart observation of the hunt by independent observers. She claimed that the government did not want observers to document accurate images of the horrors of the hunt, which contradicted the government’s own assertions about it.

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New Canadian legislation could end the seal hunt forever

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Now more than ever, the end of Canada‘s commercial seal slaughter is within our reach. Because of your support, global demand for seal products has almost been eliminated, and the end of the Canadian seal slaughter is inevitable.HSI inset Harb bill

In a major development just last month, Canadian Senator Mac Harb introduced legislation in the Canadian Senate to end the largest commercial slaughter of marine mammals on Earth. The good news is the bill was unanimously approved to pass for second reading. BUT final passage of this critical legislation is still up for debate, so we must do everything in our power to make this happen.

Please take urgent action today, and tell the Canadian Senate to support this humane and lifesaving bill and end the shameful seal slaughter for good.

I’ve recently returned from the East Coast of Canada, where I observed yet another year of very poor ice conditions that threaten the very survival of harp seal populations. But instead of taking action to protect seals, the Canadian government authorized the sealers to club and shoot 400,000 harp seals.

Canadian Senator Harb’s bill comes at a critical time in our fight to protect baby seals, and we urge the Canadian Senate to do the right thing: End the reckless killing of these defenseless animals.  Join us today in telling them you want the bloody cruelty to stop. The world is watching.

Seals Need You Now More Than Ever

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Published on 4 May 2012 by 

WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT – Despite having almost no seal pelt market to sell to, the Canadian government continues to fund the cruel seal slaughter with taxpayer dollars. We’re close to winning the fight to save seals for good, and we need your help.

Seal Survivor

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“I just wanted to share this video with you, as it made me feel so happy!  This sure is one lucky guy, maybe the sealer’s didn’t’ spot him due to his white coat…Oh how I wish all the pups were as lucky. I will be praying that this little guy lives up to his name & has a long & happy life!!”



This seal’s name is Survivor—he was one of the lucky ones who escaped the brutal seal hunt—but thousands of other baby seals are being slaughtered off the coast of Newfoundland—shot, stabbed, skinned—all for their fur.

Despite the fact that global markets for seal skins are closing for good, a provincial Canadian government paid $3.6 million to stockpile seal skins from this year’s slaughter.

Please, help stop the killing once and for all by making an emergency donation to protect seals:…

IFAW Seal Hunt Watch 2012 – surveying the first day of the hunt

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In this brief video, produced by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Sheryl Fink, director IFAW seal program updates us on the start of the 2012 Canadian commercial seal hunt.

Slaughter of the survivors

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This year, climate change caused virtually all the sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to melt–long before it should have. So many of the baby seals have died already, forced into the water before they were strong enough to survive there. Unbelievably, sealers came here anyway to slaughter the remaining defenseless pups.

In a couple of weeks, the commercial seal slaughter will begin in earnest off the coast of Newfoundland and the Canadian government just authorized a record high quota of 400,000 harp seals. If we don’t stop it, so many baby seals could be killed.

Please help us end this slaughter of the survivors, donate today:

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