TORONTO—Animal Justice is applauding a government bill introduced today in the Senate to protect elephants and great apes from captivity in Canada. Bill S-15, sponsored by Senator Marty Klyne, incorporates aspects of Bill S-241, The Jane Goodall Act (also sponsored by Senator Klyne) which is currently being studied by the Senate, and is broader in nature.
Bill S-15 would achieve a phase-out of elephant and great ape captivity over time by prohibiting zoos and private individuals from acquiring new animals or breeding existing ones, and would outlaw the use of these animals in entertainment performances. The new bill builds on a groundbreaking 2019 law that phases out the captivity of whales and dolphins in Canada.
“Elephants and great apes are sentient beings with rich emotional and cognitive capacities, and they suffer greatly when kept in zoos and private menageries,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “It’s a groundbreaking moment for our government to recognize the need to improve our laws in line with societal values, and take action to protect these incredible animals from the cruelty of captivity. We are hopeful Senators and MPs from all parties will support this important bill and usher it quickly through the legislative process.”
Canada’s legal system does not adequately protect animals from suffering in captivity in institutional and roadside zoos, or in private menageries. There are no federal laws regulating zoos, and provinces have a patchwork of legislation, with no zoo regulation whatsoever in Ontario—allowing roadside zoos with poor standards to proliferate.
Canadian values have evolved, with a majority now opposed to keeping animals in zoos and aquariums. For years, people have expressed concern about the suffering of elephants in Canadian zoos, such as Lucy who is kept alone with health concerns at the Edmonton Zoo, and African Lion Safari—an international hub for elephant breeding, performances, and sale. Many of the elephants held in Canadian zoos were captured from the wild.