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article imageSenator hopes to end whale and dolphin captivity with legislation

By Marcus Hondro     Jun 11, 2015 in Environment
A Canadian senator has introduced a bill to phase out the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity. Capturing and keeping cetaceans is a practice in Canada that meets with ongoing controversy but if passed the bill may finally end that.
Bill to end captivity
Liberal Senator Wilfred Moore is the man behind the proposed legislation. Moore, a senator from Nova Scotia since 1996 (appointed by Jean Chrétien), believes that in essence imprisoning whales and dolphins solely for the entertainment of human beings is unjustified and unethical.
Moore, a lawyer, also told a news conference on Thursday in Ottawa that it was a "cruel" practice. Cetaceans, he noted, are social creatures that value family and he said removing one from their family unit is "disturbing."
"In the wild, many whales and dolphins live in large family groups or pods which can grow to over 100 members each," the 73-year-old said. "The act of removing a family member and placing the whale or dolphin in a pool in a marine park is bad enough, but the process itself is disturbing and can lead to the death of the animal."
Canada: whales in "swimming pools"
A press release noted the federal bill, The Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, would prohibit "captive breeding, imports, exports, and live captures of all whales, dolphins, and porpoises in Canada." It would continue to allow for the rescuing of injured cetaceans, however.
There are some 50 whales and dolphins in captivity in Canada, most at the Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland in Niagara Falls. The bill has the support of, among others, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director and writer of the documentary Blackfish (2013), Dr. Marc Bekoff of the Jane Goodall Institute, of four ex-trainers of whales and dolphins, leader of the Green Party Elizabeth May and of Zoocheck Canada.
The bill was tabled this afternoon. “I hope all parliamentarians and candidates will back this going into the election," Senator Moore said. "Bottom line, whales should not be kept in swimming pools.”
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