Advocates for Animals

Making full use of the law to protect animals

Blog: Freeing Willy

Whale jumping out of water

Canada introduces a new law that bans the captivity of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises.

A new law has passed in Canada making it illegal to keep whales, dolphins and porpoises in captivity. This historic move bans the capture of these marine mammals for captivity and is an overhaul of the Fisheries Act. The successful Bill S-203 (nicknamed the ‘Free Willy’ bill) passed in The House of Commons three years after being initially introduced and has the support of thousands of animal lovers across Canada.

The new law makes it illegal for said marine mammals to perform – a hefty fine of $200,000 will apply if you defy any aspect of the new regulations – and illegal for parks to implement breeding programmes. There will also be restrictions placed on the import and export of these marine mammals. The only exception states that cetaceans can be kept in captivity if they are receiving care after an injury or for the purposes of scientific research.

The two parks in Canada that will be affected by the new law are the Vancouver Aquarium and Ontario’s Marineland. The larger of the two, Marineland, is strongly against the bill, and states that the new law will affect attendance, employment opportunities and threaten conservation work. Despite their views, Marineland has said that it will follow “all aspects” of the bill. If you put it into perspective, it is a small price to pay for the happiness and wellbeing of sentient creatures, creatures that deserve to live out their lives in freedom.

Unfortunately, the marine mammals that already live in captivity at both parks will have to remain where they are. The Vancouver Aquarium has a new Arctic Exhibit ready for beluga whales; this will now be re-designed for other animals. John Nightingale, CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium has stated that the future of the park will feature an ‘entirely new look at Canada’s arctic’. Perhaps the future of zoos and aquariums is mirrored in a recent circus performance in Germany where instead of live animals majestic, vibrant holograms are used.

Laura Pugh
Freelance Writer
Independent Contributor

We are grateful to everyone who contributes to the Advocates for Animals blog. Blogs should not be taken as legal advice nor do they necessarily reflect the views of the firm

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