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September 17, 2012

HSI/Canada Calls on DFO to Arrange for the Rehabilitation and Release of Harp Seals Zak and Mika

Humane Society International/Canada

MONTREAL—Humane Society International/Canada calls on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to arrange for and fund the immediate relocation and rehabilitation of harp seals Zak and Mika at an Atlantic Canadian rehabilitation facility. Captured as pups by the DFO this spring, Zak and Mika were provided to Aquarium des Iles in Quebec as a seasonal display for tourists. Reports indicated both seals were slated to be killed on Sept. 15.

"We calling on the DFO to stop its reckless live-capture program for good and provide for the care of these seals out of its more than $1.6 Billion operating budget. We believe there is a good chance Zak and Mika can be rehabilitated in an Atlantic Canadian facility, and released into the wild, where they belong," said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. "Killing these seals at the end of tourist season, after they have served the questionable interests of DFO and a local aquarium, is absolutely unacceptable. Seals are living beings, they are not disposable."

The Nova Scotia based Hope for Wildlife Society has expressed its willingness to attempt to rehabilitate the seals, assuming their costs can be covered.

A summer worker at Aquarium des Iles who assisted with Zak and Mika’s daily care discovered their fate and alerted several animal protection groups. Aquarium des Iles has confirmed the reports while the Minister’s office refused to comment.

The 1999 Lien Report prepared for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the welfare of captive marine mammals outlined the numerous problems with live capture and maintenance of marine mammals in captivity, and called for a moratorium on the practice to promote further discussion. If the DFO does not intend to stop live captures, the agency at least has a responsibility to care for captured marine mammals and make every effort to return them to the wild.

Media Contact: Dean Pogas, HSI/Canada: 514-261-6007/514-395-2914; dpogas@hsi.org

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than 11 million members and constituents globally—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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