Breaking news: Canada bans captivity of whales and dolphins for entertainment

By on June 10, 2019 with 7 Comments

In a powerful affirmation of the rising global tide against the use of marine animals in performing acts, Canadian lawmakers today voted to end the captivity of whales, dolphins and porpoises for entertainment.

The Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act or the “Free Willy Bill,” passed by the Canadian House of Commons with overwhelming support, includes a sweeping ban on the trade, possession, capture and breeding of all cetaceans for entertainment.

Just two facilities in the country house cetaceans — the Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland in Niagara Falls. They will no longer be able to breed or import any new cetaceans into their facilities, and no similar operations can be established in Canada.

Humane Society International/Canada campaigned for years — along with a broad coalition of key stakeholders, including other leading animal welfare groups, prominent marine scientists and parliamentarians from all political parties — for this ban. We are grateful to former Liberal Senator Wilfred Moore who introduced the bill in December 2015 in the Senate, and to Senator Murray Sinclair, who sponsored it. In the House of Commons, the bill was championed by Green Party Leader and Saanich–Gulf Islands Member of Parliament Elizabeth May.

The global movement to end the captivity of marine animals in entertainment has snowballed in recent years, with the Humane Society of the United States and HSI at its forefront. We know that whales and dolphins bred and held in confinement suffer from severe psychological stress and have high mortality rates and injuries. Today’s news is yet another sign that the world is waking up to the fact that there is no justification for such cruelty.

In the wild, whales and dolphins live in groups and family bonds that often last many years, but in captivity they are routinely traded between facilities and their family and social groups are not maintained. The shallow, confined, monotonous environment of a tank forces these marine mammals — used to traveling long distances each day in the ocean — to swim in endless circles, deprived of the normal stimuli and experiences they would have in the wild.

Our work to shine a spotlight on the suffering and deprivation of these highly intelligent, social creatures in captivity has led to many policy and corporate reforms in recent years. Bolivia, Chile, Croatia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Nicaragua, Slovenia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are among the countries that have outlawed the use of cetaceans in entertainment.

In 2016, SeaWorld, in cooperation with the HSUS, announced it would end all breeding of its orcas and would not seek to obtain additional orcas from other sources. Later that year, California banned the breeding of orcas and the use of orcas in performing acts, and other U.S. states are considering similar bans.

Today’s vote in Canada is a watershed moment, for the animals and for the thousands of our HSI/Canada supporters who wrote, emailed and called their political representatives in support of this bill. This victory is proof of what a diverse and dedicated set of stakeholders can achieve when they come together for the greater good.

Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Mariam Willis says:

    Thats great news!
    Now its time for Canada to end the cruel and horrific clubbing of baby seals and slaughtering horses!!!!

    • Michele Jankelow says:

      Absolutely time to end the assault on wildlife! The seal clubbing is primitive and should be put back into the annuals of horrors that man has inflicted on them.

    • Sue Biasizzo says:

      Thank you Mariam! I was hoping someone else was feeling the way I did after reading the article. Those were my first thoughts! If Canada can do this, they can save the seals and horses too!

  2. Henry Brzezinski says:

    Don’t forget South Carolina’s ban which has been law since 1992 and survived a repeal attempt by AB.

  3. Michele Jankelow says:

    Humane Society of the United States it is NOW time to help rehab Lolita and show that there is compassion and soul for this gentle of creature.

  4. Terry Dark says:

    Where in the law does it state that cetacean captivity has been banned?

  5. Monica Colgan says:

    Thank you Thank you, for doing what is best!’

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.