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Dolphin and Whale Captivity is Now Illegal in Canada

It’s been almost four years coming.

Now, legislation is becoming law: keeping and breeding cetaceans in captivity will be illegal in Canada.

For those among us who are not and do not pretend to be marine biologists, cetaceans are literally “huge fish” such as dolphins and whales. And yes, I am aware that technically both of these creatures are mammals. It’s all very complex.

Anyway, any person or institution (looking at you, Marineland) caught keeping these noble animals in captivity will be charged under the Criminal Code. More specifically, that means fines up to $200,000 for offenders.

“The bill is a simple and straightforward one. It works from the presumption that placing these beautiful creatures into the kinds of pens that they have been kept in is inherently cruel,” said Independent Sen. Murray Sinclair, who helped push the bill through Parliament.

Unfortunately, animals already in captivity will not see their lives improved by the new law. Marineland, for example, will be allowed to keep its stock of 55 beluga whales, five bottlenose dolphins, and one killer whale.

It should come as no surprise that Marineland, which has a three-star rating on TripAdvisor, vehemently opposed the captivity ban. The amusement park argues a law to preserve animal welfare would mean a couple of people are now out of seasonal work and that there’s essentially no reason to visit anymore. This is true. Marineland also fears that important conservation efforts would be disrupted. This is possible.

Of course, there are much stronger arguments for the ban. Those arguments were voiced by tens of thousands of Canadians who called in and emailed their support of the legislation ahead of the Commons’ passing of the bill.

Christian Nathler

Christian Nathler is a contributing writer at Notable Life.