Updated 6/25/19: Vancouver Aquarium, one of two aquariums that keep dolphins and other whales in captivity in Canada just renewed their lease with the Vancouver park board. Under the new terms, while they will be allowed to remain in Stanley Park for the next 35 years, the deal stipulates the facility will no longer display cetaceans. The aquarium also agreed to drop all legal action against the park board and the City of Vancouver (stemming from a 2017 park board by-law that banned keeping dolphins and other whales in captivity). A new home is presently being sought for Helen, a rescued Pacific white-sided dolphin and the last remaining cetacean at the facility.* This leaves only one aquarium in Canada where cetaceans are kept in captivity – Marineland, in Niagara Falls, Ontario. And it will be the last. Well done, Canada.
*Source: Vancouver Sun
Ottawa, 6/10/19: Canada made history today with the passing of Bill S-203: Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act. Bill S-203 will prohibit breeding, imports, exports and live captures of whales, dolphins and porpoises across Canada, building on Ontario’s Bill 80, which was passed on May 28, 2015.
First sponsored in 2015 by Senator Wilfred P. Moore (who has since retired), it was carried forward by Senator Murray Sinclair. After three years of exhaustive debate, the bill received approval in the Senate of Canada on October 23, 2018. The bill was then sponsored by Green Party leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) as it moved into the House of Commons.
“Canada is now on the right side of history with the passing of Bill S-203: Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act. Thirty years ago, I was sent a very disturbing photo of a dolphin named Duke, a bottlenose dolphin who for decades performed at Marineland in Niagara Falls until his demise in the early 1990s. Duke was in fact the most beat up dolphin I had ever seen. Thank you Cara Sands for standing up for Duke when nobody else would. This one is for you and Duke. It’s been a long time coming.” ~ Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project
Two aquariums in Canada currently house captive cetaceans, including the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia and Marineland of Canada, in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The following cetaceans in their inventories will be grandfathered into this legislation:
- Vancouver Aquarium – one Pacific white-sided dolphin (Helen)
- Marineland of Canada – one orca (Kiska), five bottlenose dolphins (Tsunami, Echo, Lida, Sonar and Marina) and approximately 55 beluga whales
For well over three decades, Ric O’Barry has vigorously supported local efforts in Ontario to bring awareness to the plight of captive marine mammals. We applaud all those involved who helped pass this critical legislation for dolphins and other whales, as well as the citizens of Canada who have proved they oppose keeping cetaceans in captivity. Dolphin Project has helped pass legislation all over the world to help protect dolphins and will continue to help do so until all the tanks are emptied!
Featured image: Duke – a wild-caught bottlenose dolphin who spent decades as a performing mammal at Marineland, Niagara Falls, credit: Cara Sands