BRITISH COLUMBIA

Yoga With Belugas At Vancouver Aquarium Draws Protests (VIDEO)

11/15/2013 11:55 EST | Updated 11/15/2013 12:42 EST

The Vancouver Aquarium's "Yoga With Belugas" program was the target of a demonstration Thursday, as yoga practitioners and animal rights activists protested the event held next to the tank holding the captive whales.

"It's an oxymoron," protester Cynthia Ganatra told Global News. "Yoga is about liberation and freedom.. It's about the interconnectedness of all beings."

The group gathered outside the aquarium holding signs with slogans such as "Freedom Is Love", as participants who had paid up to $31.50 for the session arrived.

One of the protest organizers, and a yoga instructor, Corie Kielbiski, led an alternative yoga session on the grass outside the aquarium, reported The Province.

Kielbiski told the newspaper that she could not believe her eyes when she saw the sessions advertised.

“Yoga has been stretched in many directions here in Vancouver, but this is the one we felt crosses the line,” she said. “Originally I thought it was a joke, I didn’t think this could actually be going on.”

But Andrew Trites, a researcher at the University of B.C.'s Marine Mammal Research Unit told 24 Hours that beluga whales tolerate confined spaces relatively well, and that the aquarium's research may provide essential data to help protect the species.

“The animals in the wild are facing incredible challenges,” he said. “There's things we simply can't learn by going to the wild to observe them.”

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