Ontario Moves to Ban Killer Whale Sales and Protect Captive Marine Mammals

Animal advocates are cheering an announcement from officials in Ontario that they will be moving ahead with plans intended to protect captive marine mammals and improve their well-being, in addition to making a change that could end captivity for orcas.

Following the release of a report commissioned by the government detailing the inadequate conditions marine mammals are currently kept in, lawmakers announced they would be moving to create new standards of care for captive marine mammals that will overhaul a number of aspects of their lives from the size of pools they’re kept in, social groupings they’re placed with and how they’re handled and displayed, among other things. They also intend to set up independent Animal Welfare Committees at every facility where they’re kept to ensure oversight.

Even bigger, they also announced they would be introducing legislation that would ban the breeding and sales of orcas in the province. An advisory group made up of vets, animal welfare groups, representatives from the industry and those who enforce regulations will also be created to provide input on the new regulations and help set up a time table for their implementation.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Ontario, which has more zoos and aquariums than any other province, would be the first province in Canada to set specific standards of care for marine mammals. Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi stated:

Our government is moving forward with stronger protections for marine mammals to ensure these unique animals receive the best possible treatment and care. This is something that Ontarians expect and these animals deserve. These higher standards of care, along with prohibiting any future breeding or acquisition of orcas in Ontario, are both the right thing to do and builds on our government’s ongoing efforts to have the strongest animal protection laws in Canada.

The move to create greater protection for captive marine mammals follows a scathing series of exposés by the Toronto Star in 2012 that were published after former employees came forward to blow the whistle on conditions at Marineland in Niagara Falls.

The reports that came out detailed the numerous issues at the park from understaffing to filthy living conditions, along with detailing specific accounts of egregious suffering that raised serious concerns about their care and subsequently drew public outrage.

Marineland is the only facility in Canada that has an orca and she will hopefully be the last. Kiska, who has been at the park for the past 37 years after being taken from her home waters in Iceland in 1977, is sadly giving Lolita a serious run for the title of the world’s loneliest orca. Her advocates fear that her health is rapidly deteriorating and while it may be too late to bring her real justice, these changes will mean no more orcas will ever have to suffer her fate.

Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist and advocate, told the Toronto Star that there is still a ways to go for captive marine mammals, but these efforts show “the kind of strong leadership North America needs on this key animal welfare issue.”

The advisory group working to establish new regulations is expected to make final recommendations in six months, while the legislation regarding orcas will be introduced later this spring. Meanwhile, we can all help captive marine mammals everywhere by not going to facilities that keep them.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

151 comments

Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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S R.
Misss D2 years ago

Hello everyone, you may wish to take a look at related comments on another article at Care2. The link is http://www.care2.com/causes/how-the-worlds-top-zoo-association-is-killing-dolphins.html.
It's the one about 'How the World’s Top Zoo Association is Killing Dolphins.'
I've left some comments on how to put further pressure on SeaWorld by not getting its permit with AZA renewed this month.
You may find it interesting and wish to get involved. Thanks.

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Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa2 years ago

Thank you

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Corey Brideau
Corey B2 years ago

these majestic animals must be protected

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S R.
Misss D2 years ago

The other orca mentioned in the article, Lolita who lives in Miami Seaquarium which is currently owned by SeaWorld, has been kept in the smallest orca tank in the whole of North America. Her pool is so small she can barely upend in the deepest part. The size of the pool is illegal but for some reason, APHIS, the regulatory body keep renewing SeaWorld's permit for her (someone paying someone??). Anyway, there is a petition on this website for her pool size to be reviewed again by APHIS. Please sign it and lets keep the pressure up. Thanks.

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Cat Tkach
Cat Tkach2 years ago

i TOTALY AGREE! I worked at marineland, and I hated allll mammals in those small tanks!!! release allll of them back in the ocean where they belong!!!!!!! a.s.a.p.!

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell2 years ago

Thank you for sharing

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Nigel Bell
Nigel Bell2 years ago

I agree with your comment Deborah W, and the proof will certainly be in the pudding. I have some optimistic tendencies though and I'm encouraged by this declaration of intent. If the end result is not optimal (hoping it will be though), even having this statement made publicly by Ontario officials is a pretty big step forward...and that is the direction we want these steps to be made in. Along with many, many others my fingers are crossed tightly.

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Deborah W.
Deborah W2 years ago

"Moving ahead with plan" ... sounds good. Updates on progress will tell the story Many good and rightful starts die on the vine after the initial feel-good announcement is made. Let's wait and see where this one goes beore ceebrating success..


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