Keeping Orcas Captive for Profit Now Banned in Ontario
Although there is only one orca whale currently being held captive in the province, Ontario’s local government has made an announcement that will, hopefully, represent a victory for imprisoned orcas worldwide. As of this week, Ontario will no longer allow orca whales to be held in tanks for profit.
The campaign to change Ontario’s laws and protect captive orcas has been spearheaded by Phil Demers, who worked as senior trainer at the Marineland amusement park. During his time at Marineland, Demers met an orca named Kiska, who was caught in the wild and has been living in a concrete tank at the park for thirty-seven years. While he was employed at the park, he witnessed the severe neglect of Kiska and other marine animals, but was unable to report the disturbing things he saw due to a lack of adequate laws protecting the animals.
Last July, photo evidence showed that Kiska’s blowhole was severely indented and her dorsal fin was crumbling – both symptoms which, according to marine mammal scientist Dr. Naomi Rose, proved that the orca was dealing with a dangerous infection and was far from being healthy and happy.
Marineland’s ability to properly care for its animals was also called into question by The Toronto Star, which had been conducting an ongoing investigation at the park for several years. The publication noted that four young belugas had died at the park in just four short years, poor water quality resulted in dolphins with horrifying skin conditions and walruses had been left alone in dry, cramped pens for inhumane periods of time.
Today, Demers is excited to see that positive changes are being made in Ontario’s laws; “Hopefully it’s the beginning of the end of marine mammal captivity in Ontario. It’s a good feeling knowing Marineland will never have another captive killer whale. Kiska will be their last.”
After marine mammal scientists at the University of British Columbia recently published a report claiming that “the present standards of care that apply to marine mammals in public display facilities are insufficient,” Ontario’s government has become committed to making some serious changes. It is expected that laws will soon be amended to include an all-out ban on the buying or selling of orcas along with much tighter rules regarding the treatment of captive dolphins, walruses, seals and sea lions.
Ontario’s positive legal changes come in the wake of a groundbreaking 2014 bill which banned holding wild-caught or captive-bred orcas for entertainment purposes in California.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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