Canada’s parliament just passed a whale of a bill.
On Monday, the Canadian House of Commons made it illegal to keep a whale, dolphin or porpoise captive. The “Free Willy” bill S203 — named after the 1993 movie about a young boy who frees an orca from a US water park — will make cetacean captivity punishable by fines up to $US150,000 ($A215,000).
“Nothing fantastic ever happens in a hurry,” animal activist group Human Canada posted on Twitter. “But today we celebrate that we have ended the captivity and breeding of whales and dolphins. This is news to splash a fin at.”
First brought before Canadian legislators back in 2015, the bill is expected to be signed into law once it gains “royal assent” or approval by the Canadian monarchy. Exceptions to the measure includes animals being rescued or rehabilitated or those cleared for scientific research.
The bill reads, “A person may move a live cetacean from its immediate vicinity when the cetacean is injured or in distress and is in need of assistance.”
In a recent statement, the Green Party of Canada said, “These intelligent, social mammals will now get to live where they belong — in the ocean.”
Many on social media are using the hashtag #emptythetanks to spread the good news.
“BREAKING and AMAZING: #Canadian parliament just passed #BillS203 which bans whales and dolphins in captivity in #Canada. It’s a great day for animals!! This ban is now law. #animallaw #animalrights #emptythetanks,” tweeted animal rights lawyer Rebeka Breder.
PETA has used the news to issue a warning on Twitter to a certain US amusement park that many activists consider particularly exploitative: “HUGE NEWS! Canada just banned the captivity of dolphins and whales across the country. SeaWorld; you’re next #EmptyTheTanks”
However, Canada’s ban on captive whales and dolphins will not affect those already in captivity, meaning nearly 60 animals will likely live out their natural lives at Marineland and the Vancouver Aquarium.
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission