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Out of Canada, 'News to Splash a Fin At'

'Free Willy' act, which would bar holding whales, dolphins in captivity, about to become law
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2019 7:38 AM CDT
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Canada is about to pass its "Free Willy" act.   (Getty Images/Luxian)

(Newser) – "Breaking: Victory!" That was the exuberant message from Canada's Green Party on Monday, when the country's House of Commons passed a bill aimed at protecting marine life there. CNN reports on the "Free Willy" bill—named for the 1993 flick in which a boy "risks everything" to free a whale from an aquarium—which will outlaw holding cetaceans such as whales, porpoises, or dolphins in captivity. The penalty for violating the law: up to $150,000. The bill, which is expected to go into effect at the end of the month after heading back to the Senate for final approval, would also make it illegal to breed these marine creatures in captivity, or import or export them or their sperm or embryos, per the National Post.

'Today's a really good day for animals in Canada," Green Party leader Elizabeth May told reporters, per HuffPost, while Humane Canada tweeted, "This is news to splash a fin at." Although the bill had started making the rounds in late 2015, with much support from animal rights advocates, Conservative senators and at least one theme park that breeds beluga whales had long pushed back against it. There are exceptions to the bill, including when the animal is in rehab or rescue facilities, if it has been licensed for use by scientists for research, or if it's in "the animal's best interests," per CNN. Some animals currently in captivity will also be grandfathered out. (Read more whales stories.)

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