Plans to Ban Orca Captivity Move Forward in Ontario

In good news for captive orcas, this week lawmakers in Ontario introduced legislation that would make confinement of orcas illegal and improve standards of care for captive marine mammals.

The official move comes after an announcement made in January that the government would consider making these changes, thanks in part to mounting pressure from animal rights activists, a lengthy report criticizing the inadequate conditions of captive marine animals, and a scathing series of exposés published by the Toronto Star that exposed serious trouble at Marineland in Niagara Falls.

The proposed legislation would amend the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to ban the acquisition and breeding of orcas effective immediately, and will bring potential fine of up to $60,000 and/or two years in prison for violators on the first conviction.

It will also bring changes to the current standards of care for other marine mammals that will improve social groupings, water quality and noise levels, in addition to regulating how they’re handled and displayed and will bring changes in the standards for the sizes of enclosures they’re kept in. Additionally, it would also require setting up independent Animal Welfare Committees at every facility, along with requiring a marine mammal veterinarian be present, to ensure oversight.

Photo2                                                   Credit: Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

According to the Toronto Sun, the final details involving standards of care are still up for discussion, but if the legislation passes, 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.

Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, said in a statement:

Our government is taking the next step on stronger protections for marine mammals to ensure these unique animals receive the best possible treatment and care. Prohibiting the future acquisition and breeding of orcas and introducing standards of care that will be among the best in the world is something that Ontarians expect and these animals deserve. These amendments build on our government’s ongoing efforts to have the strongest animal protection laws in Canada.

While the new law will unfortunately grandfather in Canada’s only captive orca Kiska, a 38-year-old female at Marineland who was taken from the wild in the 1970s, it will at least ensure that no others of her kind ever have to suffer the same fate. It will also add to a growing number of efforts to end the practice of confining these large, intelligent and social animals to tanks and send a strong message to the industry that we’re no longer willing to tolerate or support keeping cetaceans in captivity.


Please sign and share the petition urging Ontario’s lawmakers to be a leader on this issue by banning orca captivity for good.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Dianne D.
Dianne D3 years ago

very good. so what happens to the those already in captivity..

Magdalena C.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you!

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Past Member 3 years ago

ty for letting us know.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the interesting article.

mitchell dawes
mitchell dawes3 years ago

yayyyy die in a fire humans

Sylvie Bermannova

A way to go! I do hope captive sea mammals will fare infinitely better in the future ~ at best by ceasing being captive... These beautiful, intelligent animals belong to the wild, vast ocean in the first place, but any change for the better is long overdue and thus more than welcome.

Laurie Armer
Laurie Armer3 years ago

@Deborah W - YES UPDATE! They have FN decided to "grandfather" the whales already in captivity!!! I AM SO FREAKIN' DISGUSTED WITH THOSE CLAIMING THE SUPERIOR KNOWLEDGE OVER US!! THEY should ALL be jailed and confined to a small cage for their entire lives!! I would save the lives of any animal before I would even give a thought to save these "know-it-alls" and profiteering, boot-licking trash!!

Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 years ago


Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M3 years ago

Thank you for sharing Alicia. I have fear for the Orcas of the West Coastal Waters/ in the Great Bear Sea and Salish Sea, if the Trans Mountain/Kinder Morgan pipeline goes through. The Tankers will be moving right into Orca territory. Just when there have been 4 new births and a chance for them will be slim.