Canada passes ‘Free Willy’ bill to ban captivity of whales and dolphins
On June 10, Canada’s House of Commons passed Bill S-203, or the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, banning the practice of keeping cetaceans in captivity in the country. The new legislation also prohibits the trade, breeding and collecting of reproductive materials from the animals, such as sperm or embryos. The only exceptions to these provisions will be in cases of rescues and rehabilitation, licensed scientific research, or in the “best interests of the cetacean’s welfare.” Referred to as the “Free Willy” bill after the 1993 U.S. movie in which a young boy releases a captive orca or killer whale (Orcinus orca) into the wild, the bill also makes it illegal to participate in competition, exhibition, or any other events in which captive whales or dolphins are used for performance for entertainment purposes. Those who violate sections of this law can be fined up to $200,000.