NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO (WKBW) — Future Marine parks in Canada will no longer keep dolphins and whales captive.
Canada's House of Commons voted Monday to ban keeping whales, dolphins and porpoises from living in captivity. The 'Free Willy' bill as Canada's lawmakers call it, will ban the mammals from being in the enclosed spaces and ban them from performing entertainment.
Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario is the largest and only attraction that keeps these animals in captivity in Canada.
In a statement to 7 Eyewitness News, a Marineland spokesperson said they are an exception to the bill and will continue to stay open.
Parliament sought to include exemptions to what is otherwise a criminal act. Doing so acknowledged Marineland’s role as a custodian for the cetacean populations that call Marineland home, and specifically acknowledged that Marineland Canada’s actions are not inherently animal cruelty.
But some activists think otherwise. Phil Demers is a former Marineland employee and has spent the last seven years advocating to free these animals.
"The science is indisputable, keeping whales, dolphins and porpoises in tanks is inherently cruel," Demers said.
Advocates say they are happy the bill has been passed but will continue to fight for the animals in Marineland. Animal activist group Care2 started a petition to try and get Marineland shutdown. There's already more than 125,000 signatures.
"Despite the bill being passed we want Marineland to start releasing their marine mammals to sanctuaries," Lacey Kohlmoos, Care2 Organizing Strategist said.
Marineland says they are proud of their work and their contribution to research, education, and conservation. Marineland says they will operate at the highest standards.