Ontario to ban acquisition and sale of killer whales

The Ontario government plans to ban the acquisition and sale of killer whales, part of new "higher standards of care" for marine animals that would also include dolphins and walruses.

Would become 1st province to set standards of care for such mammals, according to government

Ontario plans to ban the acquisition and sale of killer whales. 1:51

The Ontario government plans "higher standards of care" for marine animals in new rules that would also include banning the acquisition and sale of killer whales.

The new standards, which would also cover dolphins, belugas and walruses, appear to be aimed at theme parks, aquariums and other attractions that own and display such water life to the public.

The government says Ontario would become the first to set specific standards of care for such mammals.

In 2012, Marineland, a southern Ontario aquarium and theme park, was accused of mistreatment of its mammals. A killer whale, also known as an orca, was reported ill last year.

Marineland is one of 60 zoos and aquariums in Ontario — more than any other province. 

Animal rights groups are applauding the planned standards.

“This is a recognition that confining orcas in tiny tanks for our own entertainment is inhumane,” said Camille Labchuk of Justice For Animals.

The government used a report by University of British Columbia marine biologist Dr. David Rosen to form the standards, which would cover:

  • The size of pools that house marine mammals.
  • Environmental considerations such as bacteria content, noise and lighting.
  • Appropriate social groupings of the animals.
  • Regulations for the handling and display of marine mammals.

“This is something that Ontarians expect and these animals deserve," Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Yasir Naqvi said.

"These higher standards of care, along with prohibiting any future breeding or acquisition of orcas in Ontario, are both the right thing to do and builds on our government’s ongoing efforts to have the strongest animal protection laws in Canada.”

A technical advisory group of veterinarians, animal welfare groups, industry and enforcement partners will provide advice on the final standards and timing of their implementation, They're set to report back to the province in six months.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.