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Canada Passes 'Free Willy' Bill, Making It Illegal To Keep Dolphins And Whales In Captivity

Canada Passes 'Free Willy' Bill, Making It Illegal To Keep Dolphins And Whales In Captivity

"These intelligent, social mammals will now get to live where they belong - in the ocean," Green Party of Canada wrote on Twitter.

At a time when it is pivotal to ensure that we keep our marine life safe, away from all the plastic pollution and illegal hunting among other detrimental factors, Canada has been making strides in protecting animal rights and conservation. The country's House of Commons has just passed a landmark bill that makes it illegal to keep a whale, dolphin or porpoise in captivity. As reported by CNN.

It all happened on Monday, June 10 when Canada approved the bill called S-203, also known as "Free Willy", making it illegal to capture and breed cetaceans. If found guilty, the offender could be punished with fines up to $200,000.

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It was first proposed in the Senate in December 2015 and has now just passed the third reading stage. However, it must now return and gain "royal assent." The much-needed law will also restrict the importing and exporting of these animals. And that's not all. For all those who are found keeping these animals for entertainment purposes will now also be punished under the new law, reports ABC News.



 

 

The bill had faced severe opposition from Conservative senators, however as expected, it was widely supported by animal rights activists. As you may know, it is named after the 1993 movie 'Free Willy' in which a young boy helps set a killer whale free from a US amusement park.

 



 

 

The successful passing of the bill was also confirmed by the Green Party of Canada who took to Twitter to announce the good news. "These intelligent, social mammals will now get to live where they belong - in the ocean," the party said.

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'Free Willy' bill has made several exceptions -- if the animals are rescues, or in rehabilitation, if they are licensed for scientific research, or when it's in the animal's best interests, reports CNN. "A person may move a live cetacean from its immediate vicinity when the cetacean is injured or in distress and is in need of assistance," it noted. 

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Animal rights activists celebrated the news and are hoping it is a huge step towards marine life conservation. "Nothing fantastic ever happens in a hurry. But today we celebrate that we have ended the captivity and breeding of whales and dolphins. This is news to splash a fin at," animal rights group Humane Canada tweeted on Monday.

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"The passage of Bill S-203 is a watershed moment in the protection of marine animals and a victory for all Canadians. 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," Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director of Humane Society International/Canada was quoted as saying by CNN. 

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"We congratulate the sponsors of this bill and the Canadian government for showing strong leadership in responding to the public will and sound science on this critical issue," she added.

Most marine animals have to deal with problems created by humans, be it global warming, pollution, ship strikes or even ocean acidification. They sometimes even get tangled in fishing gear every year, resulting in their deaths. It is time we take measures to protect the marine animals' population before its too late. 

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