Canada has just passed the “Free Willy” act, which makes it illegal to keep dolphins and whales in captivity. Bill S-203 means that anyone found capturing the animals, holding them captive, or procuring their embryos or sperm, can receive a fine up to $200,000.
This is a huge win for our ocean life and animal rights activists everywhere. Animal rights activists have been fighting for a bill like this for ages. We’re hoping it extends into the U.S. soon!
More information on the Free Willy act
Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of the Humane Society International/Canada, released a statement on the new bill. “The passage of Bill S-203 is a watershed moment in the protection of marine animals and a victory for all Canadians,” she says.
“Whales and dolphins don’t belong in tanks, and the inherent suffering these highly social and intelligent animals endure in intensive confinement can no longer be tolerated. We congratulate the sponsors of this bill and the Canadian government for showing strong leadership in responding to public will and sound science on this critical issue.”
Where the name of the Free Willy act comes from
The name of the Free Willy act gains inspiration from the 1993 film Free Willy. The movie depicts exactly how dolphins and whales churn a profit today. However, the bill does make exceptions for animals that are rescues and in rehabilitation. Lastly, another exception goes for those that are being used for limited scientific research.
The new bill has been widely supported by many animal welfare organizations. For instance, this includes Humane Society International/Canada, Animal Justice, and Humane Canada. It took a full four years for the bill to pass the Canadian legislature.
Renowned marine scientist Hal Whitehead has comments for the newly passed bill as well. “The living conditions for captive marine mammals cannot compare to their natural ocean environments… We thank the federal government and all those involved in the passage of Bill S-203…”
We are so happy to hear about this bill and the progress to stop the profit and captivity of these animals.
SeaWorld has faced much backlash about the captivity of their animals. Three years ago, for instance, they said they would stop breeding their captive Orcas. Do you agree with what SeaWorld is doing or do you think they should be stopped altogether?