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Canada to ban keeping whales, dolphins in captivity (cbc.ca)
461 points by pseudolus on June 11, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 172 comments

Zoos can serve as an opportunity for people from different demographics to be able to see a small sample of what the world has to offer. It can also help facilitate conservation efforts by allowing people to have direct & indirect interactions with the animals and professionals in the area, which they would not have otherwise.

Some people have advised to "Close Zoos and encourage people to see the animal in nature" without thinking of the unintended consequence of having millions of people swarming into these animals' natural habitat. If more people were to see animals in their habitats, it would likely lead to an increase in pollution, an increase in motor injury to the animals, more dangerous animal-to-human interaction in nature among many other issues.

If society believes that some animals should not be in captivity at all due to moral/practical reasons, it is worth asking: What other technologically driven solutions can be made/used to help people of all demographics experience what it is like to be in front of X animal? The solution may be to have a moving replica, a 3D simulator or something entirely different.

Zoos would be great if they were all world class research institutions and rehabilitation centers. We'd have far, far fewer zoos and the ones remaining would be of a higher quality.

Instead, every jurisdiction with two zip codes has its own mediocre animal jail. Not to mention the uncountable number of private zoos. I'd personally like to see those regulated out of existence, except when very high standards of welfare can be met.

> If society believes that some animals should not be in captivity at all due to moral/practical reasons, it is worth asking: What other technologically driven solutions can be made/used to help people of all demographics experience what it is like to be in front of X animal

Seems like the perfect use case for VR?

Let's solve everything with VR. Throw in some cryptochain as well for good measure.

Weird reply. This is precisely a use case where VR in particular is useful.

VR can give you an experience for something you'll be unlikely to ever do yourself for real.

It may also allow you to experience animals that have gone extinct.

It's not a technology without merit.

brilliant! can we call in cryptozoology?

Don’t forget some AI, machine learning and microservices!

>What other technologically driven solutions can be made/used to help people of all demographics experience what it is like to be in front of X animal?

I would say education teaching people that the urge to be 'in front of X animal' is likely dangerous and destructive and something we shouldn't do.

The use of media tools to allow limited interactions to be shared with much wider audiences like we see with Our Planet and other nature documentaries are more than enough to provide information, exposure, and there is no doubt that movies and media has already inspired thousands of biologists and other scientists to get into their fields (I know biologists that refer to themselves as the free willy generation due to their love of biology and nature starting with those movies at a young age, for example)

> If society believes that some animals should not be in captivity at all due to moral/practical reasons, it is worth asking: What other technologically driven solutions can be made/used to help people of all demographics experience what it is like to be in front of X animal?

Honestly, I think it's a bit weird to think these problems need to be solved at the same time. If we accept that there is something deeply immoral about holding these animals in captivity, that absolutely and immediately overshadows the problem of, how do we get these animals in front of as many diverse demographics as possible now so they can (we hope) act in favor of conservation?

As a kid I loved zoos. As an adult, I think zoos are an anachronism from a time with different values. If there wasn't a single zoo today, would a zoo be the best way to share animal life with the world? I am guessing we could do better.

In Hawaii myself and a friend have been working to convince the local tourism industry to organize into a self-regulating body which aims to aid marine science, educate the public through workshops and exposure to wildlife, and to do so without adversely impacting sea creatures' abilities to perform their essential life functions. There were some people on Moku O Keawe working on something similar for manta tourism.

They CAN.

They usually don't.

First, most zoos end up having to be driven by capitalism (even if they are non-profit), and as such are incentivized to try to game-ify the experience. Many parents and most children don't want to pay money to be lectured to. They want to have FUN.

Therefore, the experience ends up arriving at an awkward intersection between science and commerce, and it can create unhelpful connotations between animal captivity and entertainment.

Second, most people have an inate understanding that a living creature in captivity is wrong, and likely not super beneficial for the creature. So the zoos - both super conservation-focused ones, and brutal cruel entertainment zones alike - have to make an effort to justify and convince the public that actually the animals are well taken care of, are comfortable, and happy, true or not.

This further perpetuates the idea in people's heads that animals exist for our amusement and we can give them a better happier life than the wilderness.

Why is all this a problem? Because childhood memories are formative and significant. These experiences shape us and our understanding of the world. We are in a significant time of species extinction - caused directly by human activity. The amount that people care about this, about deforestation, about habitat loss, directly affects how much they care about voting for policies that either help the situation, or exacerbate it.

I'll reiterate - I think zoos/aquariums CAN be a force of good here and help change many people's minds. But I don't know if overall they are a net good if the majority of the uneducated population just treats them as an entertainment escape and formulates in their head that it's not a big deal if rhinos go extinct as long as we can still see them at zoos.

You can rent a jetski at Treasure Island, FL and see wild dolphins in the bay for the same price as SeaWorld tickets.

I get all the problems for the animals and not suggesting that they should continue to endure those problems, but I hate to see the general public's access to nature further curtailed. The mainstream seems to love wild places and wild life as long as it's on Youtube yet they spend the entirety of their own lives in suburbs and retail landscapes with virtually no direct experience with nature. I wonder how many children's imaginations were broadened over the years by seeing these beautiful animals up close and because of that how many ended up in zoology or forestry or whatever.

I grew up with zoos and aquariums, and I have fond memories of them. But of course, I wasn't kept in one. And furthermore... Zoos and aquariums are not nature. They are exhibits in a kind of museum.

If we want people to see nature, we have to preserve actual nature and encourage people to visit it. Visiting a zoo is not visiting nature, and I personally worry that equivocating the two is dangerous.

I would not want people to get the impression that as long as we keep a few breeding pairs of every animal in our museums, there is no need to preserve places for them to live in actual nature.

> If we want people to see nature, we have to preserve actual nature and encourage people to visit it. Visiting a zoo is not visiting nature, and I personally worry that equivocating the two is dangerous.

I don’t find this compelling, and think that you are missing the point: visiting zoos is a way to inspire people to care about nature such that they will want to preserve it.

I was at a zoological society fundraiser where Joel Sartore, founder of the Nat Geo “Photo Ark” series, was the keynote speaker. In it he talks about the intrinsic good of nature and biodiversity. Because it is a good in and of itself, how can we protect it?

His argument was kids today aren’t connected to nature in the same way generations past have been connected to nature. With TV, video games, smart phones, etc., kids generally don’t spend as much time outside as they used to, and if they do, there is a higher chance it is in a more Urban area than years past.

Zoos, he argues, are one of the few remaining places a kid can see nature up close, and hopefully see the intrinsic good of nature to “give a shit” about it (his words). Once they do “give a shit,” they are more likely to want to protect it once they are grown up.

So zoos protect and preserve nature (an intrinsic good) and hopefully inspire younger generations to care about nature and grow up to want to protect it (instrumental good).

I found his argument compelling, and don’t think declaring that people should simply “preserve actual nature” would be very effective.

To each their own. My children seem just as inspired by today’s documentaries as I was by zoos, and my daughter has decided she wants to be a Veterinarian.

She seems quite aware that zoos are prisons for animals, and although she did like them when she was too young to understand all of the ramifications, today she is not interested in visiting our local zoo at all.

What you are repeating here is that zoos are a kind of propaganda for protecting nature, not that zoos protect nature.

Therefore, zoos are not an intrinsic good, they are one possible strategy for motivating people to actually protect nature.

Saying that zoos are good in this fashion is like saying that advertising is good because it may motivate people to do good. That’s fine, but it doesn’t make advertising an intrinsic good.

An intrinsic good is something internal to the thing itself. What you are actually arguing is that zoos are an extrinsic good, that the goodness of the zoo happens somewhere else, in the actual nature, and somewhen else, when the kids grow up.

I don't find the "kids these days" argument compelling in the least.

What do you think about national parks? I've been to a few and .. I dunno. I find it weird we pay to get into a federal park. I feel like the money exchange encourages them to advertise passes, and draws in more people. These parks are often overcrowded with so many people filling up parking lots to see nature.

When you start building paths and roads and hiring rangers, you do make it safer for people to see these great areas, but you also put a system in place that's makes it not quite what it was.

I live on the outskirts between Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. While myself and locals access the (truly wild) back country regularly (it's generally why we live here), it's also really important that the 4+ million tourists from urban and suburban environments have visitor centers, boardwalks, signs, rangers, and guides. That middle ground is necessary for their safety as well as area around it. Yes, they will mess it up (or themselves) if allowed to roam freely - there's just too big of a gap between what they know and the real world. It would be great if that gap were less, but it's not, so I don't see a way around it. I'm just happy that so many have the desire and the opportunity to at least get that close.

I think that National Parks are necessary AND I think that wild, untamed and unexploited spaces are also necessary. The tradeoffs for building parks are challenging, but there is some logic behind them.

I also think you need "parkland" at all levels. here in Canada's GTA, we have areas managed by the the Toronto Recreation and Conservation Authority, and they try their best to preserve nature while managing access.

I belong to several MTB clubs that work with them, and they to put guardrails in place. We can't dig trails without studying the effect on the habitat first, trails are regularly closed for regeneration, they prohibit night riding to protect nocturnal behaviour, &c.

Can't speak for National Parks in the US, but in Canada they're quite well protected. Sure, Banff, Jasper and attractions along the highway are built up (it's kind of the point; have easily accessible attractions which bring in revenue to pay for real conservation).

But once you get into the backcountry, its pristine wilderness, with a good number of wild animals. We've certainly been more successful at protecting bears, wolves, mountain lions and numerous prey animals, than any other country on earth.

My favourite National Park is Five Fathoms Marine Park. Where else do you get to dive pristine shipwrecks in clear freshwater?

(Bring a dry suit, or prepare to put on every scrap of neoprene you can beg, borrow, or steal. Georgian Bay is damn cold.)


Had never heard of it. TIL. My favourites are in Alberta: Banff, Jasper, Elk Island (which has a large bison herd!). Also dreaming of visiting Nahanni National Park.

Isn't it inevitable? The population grows, but the national parks don't get any bigger.

> Visiting a zoo is not visiting nature

Of course not. But being able to see a giraffe in "nature" isn't something most people could ever do.

> I would not want people to get the impression that as long as we keep a few breeding pairs of every animal in our museums, there is no need to preserve places for them to live in actual nature.

Is anyone actually getting that impression? Seeing animals in zoos often is a catalyst for wanting to improve habitats in the wild. If you've never seen a giraffe, why would someone care about a giraffe habitat? It's abstract when it's "over in Africa" -- it's real when you can see the animal yourself and thus you're going to be more passionate about protecting those animals' habitats.

> I personally worry that equivocating the two is dangerous

I'm willing to bet a visit to SeaWorld has led to more kids wanting to be marine biologists and protect the oceans that any other experience. Nobody is suggesting that SeaWorld is the ocean. SeaWorld is a window into the wonderment that is out there in the real ocean. Look at the Monterey Aquarium -- they are significant drivers of marine preservation and education. Should the aquarium be closed, lest someone mistake the fact that they aren't actually viewing the animals in the real ocean?

Encourage through funding people to visit and be in nature - similar benefits of developing interconnection by traveling and doing exchanges around the world.

Aquariums won't go away any time soon, and I prefer them. Most fish don't care or can't tell their in captivity. I've seen a few were their otter exhibits seem questionable, but most have enough space. Very few aquariums have dolphins and whales and these animals really shouldn't be in such small spaces.

You can still see dolphins and whales, it just takes more effort. The ferry between the North and South island in New Zealand is often followed by bottle nose dolphins. There are tour groups in Seattle that take people into the sound to track down Orcas. You can even come across seals sometimes out of the rocks, if you cycle around coastal areas.

Seaworld and zoos are not "nature" and America's national parks are busier than ever https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/20/national...

This is where technology like VR and AR can really take off. We shouldn't have to torture animals any longer to further our own species. We can create beautiful virtual worlds for games that are hyper realistic and fully interactive. We can push our selves to do the same and get rid of zoos. Why can't children go to museums and virtual field trips? Can you imagine something like Planet Earth but fully interactive in VR? We aren't that far off.

I really don't want to see VR and AR replacing real access to live animals. If zoos and parks aren't the answer, then VR/AR isn't either, or at least, I really don't want it to be; it'd feel something out of a scifi dystopia to me.

Everyone I know (see username) visits nature to be in nature. Not just to see it.

Look what happens when people visit a place because it looks good on youtube, Everest is a prime example. All those people going into the wild to see it firsthand will fuck it up, damage and pollute it. The very wildlife they wanted to see would be destroyed in time.

Are confined animals in a park nature? Or just an imitation of it?

Let’s hope this will soon be extended to other animals like bears, mountain lions and other who have huge ranges they usually live in. They develop a lot of psychotic behavior in captivity like constant pacing and others. Not sure if it’s much better but at a minimum they should be kept in large areas like parks where you then drive through so they have some area to roam.

I really don't like zoos because the animals do often look sad and in limited space (I really prefer aquariums, those without dolphins), but at the same time: you have to remember the purpose of a zoo.

Many of them take animals that are rescues, have serious injuries and many can't be returned to the wild. Some zoos have breeding programs and attempt breeding and release work. Some zoos even have endlings, the last of a species that can only survive (for now) in captivity.

Most zoos are small and bad, but there are a few good ones that try to provide a good amount of space and comfortable living for animals. The San Diego Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo and Melbourne Zoo are all good examples.

Zoos like the San Diego wildlife park (it's separate from the older San Diego Zoo, and outside the city a little) are good this way: they have lots of room for the animals to roam and it's more like their natural habitats.

Also, with some animals, keeping them in zoos in the best place for them because they wouldn't survive in the wild. Many zoos have permanently injured birds, for instance, that can't fly any more, and there's also albino animals (like white tigers) that can't live in the wild.

Some zoos also undertake conservation efforts such as captive breeding and reintroduction. [0] is just one example. I hope bills like this don't swing the pendulum too far and end up hindering conservation.

[0] http://www.torontozoo.com/Conservation/captive-breeding.asp

I think that captive breeding with the goal of reintroduction would fall under the welfare and best interest or scientific research clauses introduced and amended by the legislation.


I think a middle ground can be found.

While I really love the Toronto zoo, watching their lynx pace back and forth in the cage, digging a path into the ground, that really impacted my impression of zoos generally. Perhaps large[0] cats like that don't belong in small enclosures.

[0]Lynx are actually much smaller than I expected, and bobcats even smaller than that. Still, they need a large space to thrive.

I've seen a lynx (mountain lion) close-up too, and they're not small. They're the height of a medium size dog, but far more muscular. They can easily take down a human, and have been known to kill humans (usually women) when very hungry and too close to civilization. Of course, they're not the size of a Siberian tiger; those things are huge.

As for needing a large space to thrive: that would be nice, but they can't really live in the wild in most places any more because stupid humans will kill them. This is the whole reason deer are so overpopulated in many places in the US; lynxes are their normal predators.

Mountain lions are pumas, not lynx, and quite a bit bigger.

Correct. Also called cougar.

There’s an aviary that does exactly this in Salt Lake City with bald eagles, vultures, flamingos, owls, and others. It’s worth a visit if in the area. https://tracyaviary.org/

Most if not all captive raptors have some kind of illness. Interestingly, sometimes it's actually a mental illness. The most common example I know of is being imprinted on humans rather than their own species. These birds simply wouldn't survive in the wild. In fact, they won't even survive in captivity if kept in the same enclosure as another member of their own species.

What's the good reason for not extending it to cow, dog, cat etc...? Where do you draw the line?

Each of the animals you listed are domesticated.

That's a fair question. Just think about how many cats and dogs are stuck inside small apartments most of their lives.

Or on a roof/balcony. Living in Guadalajara, I've wanted to put many dogs out of their misery. Left on the roof as thief-deterrent to go completely crazy.

Our treatment of animals (pets, meat) is one of the indicators of how primitive we still are as a civilization... or, god forbid, species.

The fact that we keep animals as pets and use them as meat indicates that we are the superior species and by extension we are the most glorious civilization.

To be fair we treat people really badly too. We just suck as a species.

Why just getting stuck in apartment or home? Most of the pet dogs here (in the US) are spayed/neutered so they have no reproductive purpose left. They are basically just living toys for the amusement of the owners.

How asinine. Humans and dogs have evolved (literally) a wonderful co-dependency over the last 10,000 years - it is not a one way street.

To some extent that's a matter of perspective and context. Keeping a Great Dane or even a Border Collie in a small apartment is a very different thing from keeping a Chihuahua in one.

For most people getting a Border Collie is really bad and just mean to the dog. These dogs are very smart and active and they lose their mind if they have nothing to do. They are working dogs, not pets.

It’s hard to draw a line. I would however support better treatment of farm animals and also make it more difficult for people to get pets. We foster dogs and I find it hard to understand how people can get a puppy for the kids for Christmas and then dump it a year later at a shelter it just at the roadside. As a society we should be much more respectful of animals but this raises a few very inconvenient questions that are hard to answer.


I agree with this sentiment. Seeing the way grizzly bears act in a zoo is pretty heartbreaking. They normally have ranges of hundreds of square kilometers. The pen i seen it in was less then 500 square meters for sure. It just kept pacing and throwing a log around kind of like a big dog. Then would do a round of the enclosure then back to pacing and the log.

"Monday's vote notably impacts Marineland, the Niagara Falls amusement park and zoo that is considered the last Canadian park committed to keeping cetaceans in captivity."

Wow, so they passed a national law that essentially targets just a single park? How often does that happen anywhere? (I know the back story but I never knew Marineland was the only place... not saying this is wrong or right, just surprised)

The article mentions that the bill was first introduced in 2015. I wonder how many aquariums had started removing their whales and dolphins during that time.

Some quick searching shows that some aquariums have been doing this, including Marineland itself:


In this sense, passing the bill now might be less of an incentive to change and more prevention of a change back.

> Wow, so they passed a national law that essentially targets just a single park? How often does that happen anywhere?

Might be more common than you think.

The state of Missouri passed an amendment in 2010 [1] that changed rules about a position "except counties with a population between 600,001-699,999", which just happened to only apply to Jackson County in the state. (I always assumed there was some kind of backroom dealing involved with the officials of that county.)

I can't find it now but I also think there's a similar law that used a similar population work around with a limit of 1,000,000 people, which was in danger of no longer applying to St. Louis county because the population was threatening to fall to around 999,000.

[1] https://ballotpedia.org/Missouri_Election_of_Charter_County_...

Our current Prime Minister is a big fan of making grand statements when it comes to progressive issues[1]. This is as much a message to the rest of the world as to Canadians.

[1] This isn't a criticism, per se, but this propensity does tend to get Trudeau and his party into trouble. I voted for his government in the last election and fully support this law.

Yeah, to his opponents it's grandstanding overreach. To me it seems like a codifying into law a statement about where society already is - much like marijuana laws, society was already there, but now it's acknowledging that, though in this instance it's banning and that was allowing. I'm not saying everything he's doing matches that, but in this instance, it would seem to be the case.

Getting political, but this is classic Liberal Party. It's smart politics. It allows the party to claim the mantle of progressiveness even though it wasn't really them that did any of the work.

See also: Gay Marriage legalization. The Liberals passed a bill legalizing it, but only after the courts of two provinces were set to make it legal anyway.

Gay Marriage was legalized nationally, not limited to 2 provinces, so it was actually significant and they did support it and pushed through the legislation.

Same with this bill. To downplay it because companies have already been adjusting to this expected reality quite petty, and they deserve full credit for the legislation of it.

It is not believable that rules restricting gay marriage would be struck down in some provinces but not others in Canada. Legalization was obviously inevitable.

A few years prior the Liberal government of the day was opposed to gay marriage and voted to confirm the status quo definition of marriage.

The Liberals of course deserve credit for seeing the obvious and not attempting any action to block gay marriage further, but they did not lift a finger to support gay marriage until the courts weighed in and forced the issue upon them.

>It is not believable that rules restricting gay marriage would be struck down in some provinces but not others in Canada. Legalization was obviously inevitable.

Long term the supreme court of Canada would have struck down provincial bans on gay marriage, but not all of the provincial courts would have. Inevitable could take 10 years, or 50.

Doing it nationally and at once reduced years of suffering and human rights issues, and thus was significant.

>The Liberals of course deserve credit for seeing the obvious and not attempting any action to block gay marriage further, but they did not lift a finger to support gay marriage until the courts weighed in and forced the issue upon them.

That's simply not true.

Even at that point the Conservatives voted against - they aren't great in a vacuum, but once you compare the two leading parties there's clearly a difference, one side going with social evolution as opposed to voting against. The Conservative's declared it a free vote as well, so it's not just the opposition filling its role as the opposition.

The Vancouver Aquarium went through this at a municipal level several years ago, ultimately moving its belugas to Marineland (they’ll now be moved to Spain). This wasn’t an issue of targeting a single park so much as finalizing in law what was already a growing consensus across Canada that had already ended several other captive cetacean programs.





And there's lots more, it only takes a few moments with web search to turn up plenty of allegations that Marineland and its owner are toxic.

I went to Marineland ~10 years ago and it was one of the saddest things I've ever seen. Very poor wildlife management and obviously exploited orcas. I've heard it has gotten worse since then.

Can confirm. I was there around the same time (2007), and it was sad. My wife (who grew up seeing commercials to Marineland) had always wanted to go, because it looked so fun. Was literally the worst part of the trip. She was so disappointed.

Same here, seemed like all they had were way too many orcas, and one really sad looking bear.

It’s an election year in Canada and the race is close. Expect more feel good laws that don’t actually change much.

If you actually follow activists such as @walruswhisperer you will realize this is much more than a feel good law, this is huge and they have been pushing for this legislation for a very long time.

Oh I’m sure people have been backing this for a very long time. But the reason it’s become law at this time is the election.

It also prevents future parks from existing.

>Wow, so they passed a national law that essentially targets just a single park?

It doesn't target them, it targets all Canadian wildlife institutions. The legislation has been in the works for a while, this is really codifying something federally that provinces and environmentalists have been trying to do for a while.

Just because a lot of the ground work was already done before the bill was signed into law over the last decade doesn't mean this is targeted at the last remaining holdout (who is mostly grandfathered in to be clear, they can't bread or capture but can keep what they have).

This has been a growing issue ever since documentaries like Blackfish came out. Awareness of how these particular creatures are treated has led a lot of existing parks to either close down or pivot to other attractions and conservation efforts.

Even in the US, Seaworld has decided to phase out whales and try to push other attractions, due to shifts in public opinion. I have a feeling other US aquariums, like Chicago, will likely go the same route and not replace or breed their current dolphin/whales populations.

A few paragraphs in:

"Whales and dolphins that are already in captivity will be grandfathered in by the bill, meaning parks can keep all the animals they currently own."

Importantly, it's the animals that are grandfathered in, not the parks. So it'll take a while but this will eventually bring an end to Marineland's captivity program.

This comes at the same time as other changes dones to improve the whales's ecosystems.

See [Whale watching excursions prohibited in part of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park](https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1178858/parc-marin-sagu...) for example.

> Wow, so they passed a national law that essentially targets just a single park? How often does that happen anywhere? (I know the back story but I never knew Marineland was the only place... not saying this is wrong or right, just surprised)

What's the alternative where the law rules? If federal jurisdiction is where the law/regulation would belong, how else would you bring an end to that practice?

Current captive dolphins and whales are grandfathered in, so Marine Land will still keep running for a while.

Weird; I wonder if the article was updated in the last hour since your comment -- because the lead sentence is:

> "Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ont., says new law won't impact its operations."

In the near term, because animals already in captivity were grandfathered in. But those animals won't live forever, so Marineland's days of whale captivity are numbered.

Seems like a move in the right direction but are there any exceptions to this rule? Surely there are some dolphins being kept in captivity for good reasons (health, conservation programmes), if such is not the case I don't see much of a downside to this apart from the obvious impacts on employment in that industry...

From TFA: "The bill has exceptions: cetaceans can be kept in captivity if they're receiving care or rehabilitation after an injury, or for scientific research."

The scientific research loophole seems like a pretty big one.

Japan exploits a similar loophole for slaughtering whales.

They are a signatory to the moratorium on whale hunting, but exploits a loophole which allows whales to be killed in the name of ‘scientific research’.

Perhaps, but the Vancouver Aquarium had the belugas currently at Marineworld, and were prevented by municipal bylaw from allowing the them to breed (which was aimed at avoiding a different loophole where aquariums could maintain a captivity-bred beluga line for research purposes).

The aquarium argued it was a pure research program, and it was a legit research program that had been going on for decades at least, I think. But public opinion swung against them and they made arrangements to end their program. Mostly their position was untenable because the aquarium supports itself with visitor ticket prices and donations, and the simple sight of belugas doing neurotic laps in a relatively tiny tank was enough to cause ticket sales to drop once it was publicized that their living conditions were inhumane.

So if you get a couple of marine biologist on your books and pump out a few papers per year the party can continue?

You can't make them perform for entertainment regardless of the loophole used to keep them.

You can make them perform if you get a license, according to the text for S-203 (see the link to the law in my other comment)

It's not hard to think of a couple of research questions that involve them performing tricks. You might as well invite people to watch the research as it happens.

(I'm not suggesting that they should do this, just that they will. "Research" can be an easily abused loophole. Just look at Japan and their whale "research".)

"Performances" by dolphins at the Vancouver Aquarium for several years have been feedings, and demonstrating research techniques (e.g. attaching and removing suction based sensors and tools, demonstrating how the animals have been trained to allow blood and other samples to be taken safely, etc). I still maintain my membership at the Vancouver Aquarium because I approve of pretty much all of their rescue programs, even though the breeding and in particular the Beluga program has been problematic in the past.

I am not a fan of keeping wild animals in captivity, but I am very much in favor of the types of rescue programs like those run by Vancouver Aquarium (and of captive breeding programs for at-risk, endangered, and extinct in the wild species).

> Whales and dolphins that are already in captivity will be grandfathered in by the bill, meaning parks can keep all the animals they currently own.

I am happy to see this.

Some wild animals, especially high-functioning ones -- are meant to be seen in the wild.

If they are in imminent danger, of course -- building city-like habitats to protect them (whatever a 'city' would mean in their context) -- is more than appropriate.

We could also invest into building teams of people whose show-business is around building relationships with animals in the wild, in such a way that they can periodically visit the team and not be spooked by onlookers.

It takes years, dangerous, and would not always work -- but much more humane than keeping these creatures in forced captivity.

Somewhat on a tangent but the podcast "Undiscovered" featured an episode that discussed American's evolving relationship with whales and dolphins and how, in a very short period, they went from being perceived as food and fertilizer to centerpieces of the environmental movement. It's a great listen [0].

[0] https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/long-loneliness

Phil Demers, who worked at Marineland (referenced in article), was just on the Joe Rogan Experience (episode #1297). They discuss this legislation pretty heavily.

Yes, it painful for me to look at animals in narrow cages where they slowly go mad whith monotony. (next - by the Thanos voice) But in general I can't understand the logic. In the wild, the animal has hard life. It will sooner or later be injured, sick, starving, and even eaten alive. But these sufferings are considered as normal because they are "natural". In the well-maintained zoo, the animals eat, sleep, and a bit bored, but this sufferings are considered as unacceptable. For billions of years, animals suffered for a reason: it was evolution. Now biological evolution is complete because it is displaced by the evolution of civilization. Why do animals have to suffer in wild nature now? It may happen that our descendants will look at humanism towards animals completely different: allowing animals to live in the wild will be considered a crime (like living children unattended).

Animals have spent billions of years evolving to live in and handle the world they naturally inhabit. Taking them out of that, putting them in a small cages where they don't feel safe, they don't understand whats happening. They are surrounded by things that are threats in the wild, noises they aren't familiar with, etc..

Putting a wild animal in a cage isn't "boredom", its torture.

> Now biological evolution is complete because it is displaced by the evolution of civilization

That's not a true statement.

>Why do animals have to suffer in wild nature now?

Because animals ARE wild/ARE Nature. You can't remove nature from nature.

>allowing animals to live in the wild will be considered a crime (like living children unattended).

This is... absurd... Animals are not pets, animals ARE wild, they are dangerous. They are also required for life on this planet to continue. The ecosystem depends on animals at all levels of the energy/food web for it to exist and continue and screwing with this on that level would largely ensure the collapse of the worlds ecosystems.

> Animals have spent billions of years evolving to live in and handle the world they naturally inhabit.

Then what about meerkats as pets, for example?

> Because animals ARE wild/ARE Nature. You can't remove nature from nature.

Who say this to you? It was God, animals themselves or some voice of Universe? There is no one here, only us. We can do what we think is right. If we see suffering that has no any purpose, we can stop it. What is "purpose" is just our choice too.

> They are also required for life on this planet to continue.

For what? Now we are life on the planet. Nature has evolved and we are the result and next step.

>The ecosystem depends on animals at all levels ..

Now we have a new ecology: mankind and Earth.

>Then what about meerkats as pets, for example?

What about it?

>Who say this to you? It was God, animals themselves or some voice of Universe?

This is what I learned by studying biology and ecology

>There is no one here, only us. We can do what we think is right.

You're suggesting interrupting a natural ecosystem that is beyond complex, likely leading to its complete collapse, due to lack of understanding.

You may "think" you're right, but anthropogenic projection and a complete lack of understanding of how the world works doesn't make your view right, if anything your an example of someone with good intentions that would utterly fuck up the world if you were given control

>If we see suffering that has no any purpose, we can stop it. What is "purpose" is just our choice too.

Suffering is a natural state of existence, we all experience it, it's part of life, many philosophers would argue a necessary part of life.

>For what? Now we are life on the planet. Nature has evolved and we are the result and next step.

We rely on a massively complex ecosystem made up of millions of other living organisms. We are not "the life", we are an example of it on this plane.

Nature is continuing to evolve, we're just one point on a long line of changes.

>Now we have a new ecology: mankind and Earth.

That is absurd and unjustifiable. Earth's ecosystem is made up of billions and billions of living things, humans are just one part of it, and one of the most damaging, destructive, short-sighted living things and we cause significantly more suffering than anything else.

I would suggest starting with biology and ecology courses, and some history both geological and human.

> You're suggesting interrupting a natural ecosystem that is beyond complex..

No.We did not understand each other. I'm talking about what we will do when we completely destroy this ecosystem. May be it will take about hundred years.

> Suffering is a natural state of existence..

Then why do we worry about animals in zoos? We are part of nature too. Then why do we separate natural and non-natural suffering?

> Nature is continuing to evolve, we're just one point on a long line of changes.

Wild nature has no time for this. Evolution requires millions of years. We will destroy it before anyway. And even if we disappear and let it to evolve farther, then for what? It has produced conscious cpecies already.

> Earth's ecosystem is made up of billions and billions of living things, humans are just one part of it.

Ok. Another point of view: what do you think about the anthropic principle?

I think you equate humans with animals. But that is absurd, because it is the judgment of man. Animal cannot judge at all. You separate nature and mankind and then say that it just part of nature. I do'n understand a point.

> I would suggest starting with biology and ecology courses, and some history both geological and human.

I think I studied it at school 30 years ago :). Last years I finished with quantum mechanics and switched to English language (sorry, the hardest subject for me).

You forget that we are wild too; though we have traded real jungles for concrete jungles, our biology has not changed

that's a bit too far fetched for me to believe possible for all Animalia. Then again we sorta treat dogs and cats similarly. That took thousands of years to domesticate though.

Canada should take the opportunity here and offer some funding to develop VR and AR that can help facilitate the transition away from having animals be captive...a sort of virtual Zoo. If they aim to build something like that and offer appropriate funding, I bet it can be a really interesting and competitive attraction that can be completed in 20 years.

Especially with the death of retail, can you imagine large retail spaces getting converted into awesome VR parks?

Do they not still allow quite a lot of whale hunting?

Small numbers of subsistence and traditional/ritual hunting by the Inuit, not "quite a lot" and monitored by the Department of Fisheries.

I think they allow First Nations to hunt a certain amount —don’t know how that affects sustainability though; it’s for sustenance.

First Nations hunting rights typically do not extend to commercial rights (i.e., first nations can hunt but not sell the meat) so I would be surprised to learn there's much in the way of whaling still happening nowadays. First I heard of it still being legal, though I'm not surprised to learn it - treaty rights are very slow to be renegotiated.

Japan is restarting their whaling, after 30 years


A lot no. Some, in sustainable ways yes.

So how do people now see whales or dolphins?

If you want to see Orcas in their natural habitat, take the ferry between Vancouver and Victoria. I do it frequently and we see Orcas somewhat regularly. It's not as convenient or predictable, but that much more amazing when you see them in the wild.

Also, if your very lucky you can walk around the sea wall in Vancouver and occasionally see Orcas and other aquatic wildlife.

I saw orcas swimming in Vancouver harbor a few weeks ago.

Go to a coastal area. Optionally bring binoculars. It’s free, and a great way to see the creatures in their natural habitat behaving naturally.

Nature Documentaries now with modern equipment (drones, remote camera's, field camera's, 4k+) give people better views of whales and dolphins in their actual real habitats far better than aquariums ever did.

Go to BC and take a whale-watching tour. Dress warm.

Boat? Swim?

Ya don't

Man, I went to a wedding a few years ago, at a big indoor shopping mall with a connected hotel, in Alberta. This mall had a pool that apparently usually had dolphins, except they didn't at that time, apparently because "(shrug), they kept dying" according to someone who lived there.

animals like Whales and Dolphins should not be kept in captivity. Not only are they emotionally and intellectually intelligent - they also tend to roam 100s (in Whales, 1000s) of miles which makes captivity unfeasible and brutal for these animals.

Is there evidence all these creatures dislike captivity and would prefer fending for themselves in the wild? Genuinely curious. Not that it means anything, but dolphins have always seemed happy in captivity so long as they are being cared for appropriately.

> It is not a matter of opinion that orca whales, bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales die prematurely when kept in captive settings, but rather a potent and recurring reality. Marino & Frohoff (2011) show that this is especially and most dramatically seen in the orca whale, with males living on average 29.2 years in the wild with an observed maximum of 60 years, and females living 50.2 years on average with an observed maximum of 90 years. Their naturally extensive lifespan is shortened severely when they are placed in captive environments, with few orcas living past the age of 20 in captivity (p. 3)

> Many cetaceans in captivity develop stereotypies, or unnatural, often purposeless behaviors that can be a manifestation of poor mental health. Such behaviors include repetitive pacing, swaying, head-bobbing or circling, and bar-biting (Cetacean Inspiration, 2011). One of the most prominent stereotypies noticed in these whales is an activity known as slide outs. The whale will slide out of the water and sit motionless, sometimes for 10 minutes at a time (Cetacean Inspiration, 2011). This creates safety issues for the guests of marine mammal parks like SeaWorld. If a whale did this in the wild for too long of a time the weight of the whale could crush its own internal organs (Cetacean Inspiration, 2011).


See also the Blackfish documentary (which seem to have left Netflix sadly). Almost all captive male orcas have a floppy dorsal fin, that is a definite sign of ill health and seldom happens in the wild.

I watched Blackfish about a week ago, and I'm pretty sure it was on Netflix. Could've been Amazon.

From the study that Marino & Frohoff (2011) cites for orca whale lifespan in the wild:

> Using data from between 1973-4 and 1987, females have a mean life expectancy of 50.2 yr

How is this possible? I don't understand how a 14 year observation window allows someone to observe an average life expectancy of 50 years.

Because they're able to tell how old the whale is when it died. They're not observing whales from birth to death in each instance. If you tried to do that, you'd be unable to speak on life expectancy on species with lifespans greater than like 10 years.

by autopsy? Or is there clear external physiology that indicates the age?


Quick and dirty: size is a pretty good indicator to approximate, but if you've got yourself a dead whale you can check the bones to get a better number.

Would it be anthropomorphism to consider such a slide out a suicide attempt?

Ric O'Barry, former trainer of the dolphins used for the 'Flipper' TV show (now animal rights activist) tells a story in the documentary 'The Cove' how one of the dolphins swam up to him one day, looked him in the eye, took a last breath and then sank to the bottom of the tank and died [1]. Given that dolphins have to make a conscious choice for every breath they take gives some indication for a conscious decision for suicide.

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20110926051048/https://blog.sfga...

Reportedly also Peter, the dolphin in the Margaret Lovatt research in the 60's https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/08/the-dolp...

Eh. . . . yeah? I'm not sure that's a very strong criticism. We're much more similar to other mammals than we are different from them, so our understanding of human behavior provides a very strong basis for understanding other animals' behaviors.

There's a whole book about that sort of thing, by a fairly well-respected scientist in the field: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Expression_of_the_Emotions...

Upvoting because legit question offers an opportunity to inform.

Most whales have a natural range of thousands of miles over the course of a year. Keeping them in tanks, no matter how generous to our eyes, is the equivalent of keeping a human in a bathroom for their entire life—-with exactly as little stimulation or variety as that implies.

Another response observes that whales in captivity always develop at least some neurotic behaviours, and this is generally regarded as directly caused by the incredibly limited environment in which they spend their lives. At one time, the argument was made that having them perform for crowds was necessary to keep them from going crazy.

“At one time, the argument was made that having them perform for crowds was necessary to keep them from going crazy.”

I think that’s actually a valid argument if you keep something in captivity. When you put humans in jail it’s also better to give them something to do instead of just having them sit around.

Freedom is still the best option though.

This study seems to show that training by humans to perform in shows had a negative effect on juvenile orcas.


>From 1979 to 1980, however, we were able to interact with juvenile orcas in an unstructured way at San Diego’s SeaWorld facility. We observed in the animals what appeared to be pranks, tests of trust, limited use of tactical deception, emotional self-control, and empathetic behaviors. Our observations were consistent with those of a former Seaworld trainer, and provide important insights into orca cognition, communication, and social intelligence. However, after being trained as performers within Seaworld’s commercial entertainment program, a number of orcas began to exhibit aggressive behaviors. The orcas who previously established apparent friendships with humans were most affected, although significant aggression also occurred in some of their descendants, and among the orcas they lived with.

Interesting. Sounds like they hate that kind of work. Or maybe it makes them more competitive.

Now I almost feel less disturbed about a prison that puts on a rodeo in my state.

Rodeo is animal abuse so I don’t support that. But otherwise it’s good for prisoners to have something to do. I have read about programs where they train dogs. If i was in prison I’d be happy to do that.

I rescue reptiles as a hobby. US and state laws, as well as just common sense (ie wrong biome) dictate that it is illegal to release reptiles back into the wild after they have been in captivity, my state has set a period of four weeks,after which you cannot legally return a wild caught reptile to the wild. Because of this and the rather specialized level of care needed to keep reptiles, myself and others like me end up rescuing a lot of unwanted animals. I have some lizards but generally keep turtles and consider them my "domain".

All that to say I have never met a reptile I felt would rather be in captivity. Maybe the exception is the tegu whick does seem very content to remain captive.

If nothing else, orcas don't do well in captivity from a health perspective


Even if they look happy during shows, the "behind the scenes" activities can be objectively very cruel.


For those of us who grew up in the 90's, it's the entire premise of the movie "Free Willy".

That would depend on our ability to assess the creatures likes and dislikes, which is unlikely to be perfect. They might appear fine that doesn't mean they actually are. For that reason I suggest it would make more sense to only allow keeping animals in captivity if we can prove they're not being harmed rather than assume they're alright and only ban keeping them when we can be prove it harms them.

>The dolphin's toothy grin masks its suffering and contributes to the myth that dolphins in theme parks enjoy a happy life. In truth, dolphins cannot move their facial muscles to communicate inner feelings like humans can. Dolphins appear to smile even while injured or seriously ill. The smile is a feature of a dolphin's anatomy unrelated to its health or emotional state.

We need to stop assuming as people we're able to tell the emotions of non-humans without specific training/experience.

Not to criticize you but I remember reading similar lines in books that dealt with slavery: “they look so happy”, “they are being kept so well”. It’s probably best to always assume that the natural habitat is the best for animals.

Now claim universal jurisdiction to reach anyone who illegally keeps whales, including US parks. Issue a few Interpol Red notices, make a few extradition requests.

Election campaign begins any day now. This is part of a desperate plan to hold on to power by the Trudeau Liberals. The Conservatives are poised to win easily so he’s trying to grab votes from the left wing NDP and Green parties.

Why not make water-zoos voluntarily, aka, the animals can return to the ocean, but can get a free meal & protection at the zoo at certain times? Oh, right, plastic in the ocean + fishing and dangers.

I'm no expert, but can you imagine pitching investors on an idea that involves selling tickets to see a creature that may or may not ever show up?


> Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents.



It’s very political.

The Trudeau gov’t is coming up for election soon and is polling quite poorly. The gov’t is saddled by a scandal involving interference with the Minister of Justice. Trudeau also mentioned a single use plastic ban yesterday.

Great, does this mean we can look forward to yet another right-wing government taking power in the western world?

If that's what the voters want, then yes.

I fail to see the connection between whales and dolphins kept in captivity in China vs a law being passed in Canada


They are pursuing one of these sanctuaries in Canada at the moment among other countries.

I believe it will one day be possible to use AI techniques to communicate directly with these animals.

I have often thought about running whale song through a RNN and broadcasting underwater to listen for responses.

We don't need to go to other planets to find intelligent nonhuman life, it is already here and we are wiping them out and enslaving them.

Our grandchildren will learn about this genocide in the same way we learn about the holocaust and conquering of the Americas.

I'm not so sure. Big brain not the same as 'intelligent'.

A story: every year a Japanese dog food company goes to a certain island lagoon where dolphins migrate to reproduce. They net and kill thousands and take them away.

Each year some dolphins escape, inevitably. They swim around for a year, and then the next year come back (with many other dolphins) to the lagoon, and likely get netted and killed.

Didn't they remember what happened? Didn't they communicate it to other dolphins? Don't they care?

I have to conclude either

   Dolphins are not smart enough to remember from year to year,

  or Dolphins can't communicate with other dolphins in a sophisticated enough way to say "danger! evil here!" which is pretty basic,

 or Dolphins are dicks and don't care if other dolphins are killed,

 or heck, maybe Dolphins, like Klingons, enjoy the challenge? "Today is a good day to die!"
I conclude that, in none of these scenarios, is there much wrong with killing dolphins for dog food. Not in a 'killing our sentient brothers!' way.

Many humans get killed every year in driving accidents. Every year humans continue to drive. Didn’t they remember what happened? Didn’t they communicate it to other humans? Don’t they care?

If you spend some time, I bet you can think of lots of reasons a creature might return to the same place. Many humans engage in self defeating behavior, should they be made into dog food, or should we empathise with them?

Without communicating with others to warn them of any danger. So, no dolphin cares about that? If they don't care, should we?

I think its pretty cut-and-dried, dolphins are nowhere near as bright as humans.

But does that mean they are not intelligent sentient beings?

Dolphins do communicate with each other, they use vocal communication and body language. Our failure to understand it doesn't invalidate its existence.

They form lifelong familial bonds. They have friends and enemies and form complex social structures.

They play regularly and have advanced hunting tactics that require a high degree of coordination.

They even take recreational drugs.

I have spent a significant amount of time in the water with dolphins throughout my life, and I have developed relationships with dolphins I regularly see that are at the very least as complex as the one you have with the barrista that makes your coffee every day.

If the cutoff for intelligence is human intelligence, which human is the standard?

My point is brightness or intelligence shouldn’t be the measuring stick for compassion for living things.

Right. But that goes for everything? When are we required to get concerned? Just mammals? All the way to bugs?

There's lots of grey area, and it all ends up being personal preference, but I think if one makes it a goal to always empathize it's a great starting point.

Oh yes, the slaughter of dolphins is tragic and wrong. Not because they are our 'brothers', but because they have value as part of the whole ecosystem.

I'm pretty sure our grandkids will have much worse things to learn about our time.

The kid in me says oh no. But this is an applaudable move by the Canadians. It’s terrible to keep these animals that are used to moving large distances in glass boxes.

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