(TMU) — In a big win for animal rights advocates, Canada will no longer allow whales, dolphins and porpoises to be bred and held in captivity for the purpose of entertainment.
The Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, which was passed by Canada’s parliament on Monday, will ensure that cetaceans—or aquatic mammals—will no longer be subject to the trauma of confinement in aquatic entertainment parks, which animal rights activists have blasted as amounting to a system of animal cruelty.
The new law also prevents marine animals from being subject to captive breeding, the import-export market, live captures, and also outlaws the possession of reproductive matter.
However, the bill does include some notable exceptions while allowing for marine mammals who are already held to remain in captivity, including those who were rescued, are being rehabilitated from injuries, or are the subjects of limited scientific research. Aquariums, parks and zoos will be allowed to keep their captive performing cetaceans but can no longer replace them.
The bill, which was tabled by former Sen. Wilfred Moore of Nova Scotia in 2010, hailed the passage of the law in a statement from the Humane Society International/Canada. The former Liberal Party senator said:
“We have a moral obligation to phase out the capture and retention of animals for profit and entertainment. Canadians are calling upon us to do better—and we have listened.”
Animal rights defenders and marine scientists have also celebrated news of the bill’s passage, which they have endorsed through tweets under the hashtags #EmptyTheTanks and #FreeWilly.
#Breaking: When we work together, good things happen.
— Green Party of Canada (@CanadianGreens) June 10, 2019
Experts have argued that whales and dolphins face tremendous psychological and physical suffering while in captivity, including chronic health problems, abnormal behavior, prolonged isolation and extreme boredom, and high infant mortality.
The move brings Canada up to speed with a growing list of countries seeking an end to cetacean captivity. HSI/Canada executive director Rebecca Aldworth described the passage of the bill as a “watershed moment” in the protection of the sea creatures as a well as a victory for the people of Canada who want “a more humane country,” explaining:
“Whales and dolphins don’t belong in tanks, and the inherent suffering these highly social and intelligent animals endure in intensive confinement can no longer be tolerated.”
The two main facilities impacted by the law are Marineland in Niagara Falls and the Vancouver Aquarium. According to CBC, Marineland holds about 61 cetaceans in captivity, including “55 beluga whales, five bottlenose dolphins and one orca.”
While the park initially opposed the ban, Marineland conceded Monday in a statement that its operations have evolved since the park was founded in the 1960s and it would comply with the new legislation.
The Vancouver Aquarium had already bent to public opposition last year with its pledge to no longer hold cetaceans for entertainment purposes. At the time, only one dolphin was being held at the facility.
In a statement released Monday, Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon said:
“The public told us they believed the continuing importation and display of these intelligent and sociable mammals was unethical and incompatible with evolving public opinion and we amended our bylaws accordingly.”
In 2016, U.S.-based SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment announced an end to breeding captive killer whales and pledged to shift its focus to marine mammal rescue operations instead. The company has SeaWorld Parks in California, Florida and Texas.
Almost 60 orcas are held in captivity worldwide at various parks and aquariums, with about a third of those orcas living in the U.S.—and all but one are captives at SeaWorld Parks in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio, National Geographic reports.
Despite the company’s pledges, its main attractions include dolphin shows. The company’s vice president of animal health and welfare, Hendrik Nollens, has defended the shows, claiming that dolphins “are faster than us. They are stronger than us.” Nollens added:
“They are in charge. They choose … They decide whether to do the interaction or not.”
However, Canadian marine scientist Hal Whitehead, who backed the new law, argues:
“The living conditions for captive marine mammals cannot compare to their natural ocean environments in size, nor in quality.”
Drunk Man Rescues Injured Baby Bird By Sending It To Animal Shelter… In An Uber
An injured baby bird received a new lease on life after a young man who was inebriated had the good sense to send the little creature to an animal shelter because he and his friends were too drunk to drive.
In the Summer of 2019, a small lesser goldfinch suddenly appeared by itself at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. The center’s chairman, Buz Marthaler, was notified by a volunteer who sent him a photo.
“It was a picture of this bird, and it had come by Uber,” Marthaler told FOX13. “It was just crazy.”
As it turns out, the tiny bird – which was only two weeks old – indeed rolled up to the site by its lonesome, the sole passenger in an Uber vehicle called by concerned citizens who found the injured creature.
Among those good Samaritans was Tim Crowley, who had been “day drinking” on that Saturday before he and his buddies witnessed the little bird fall from the sky.
“Impromptu, sitting in some camp chairs, hanging out, having a few drinks when we had a visitor fall out of the sky,” he explained.
Crowley then snapped a photo of the bird and sent it to the WRCNU, which instructed him to immediately bring the bird in. However, the group obviously couldn’t drive since they had been guzzling booze all day.
So Crowley decided he’d hail a cab for the creature.
“At first it was a joke, like, ‘Hey, maybe we should just call Uber!’” he said. “Then we were like, ‘No, really. Why not? We’re paying them.’”
As it turns out, the bird – since named “Petey Uber” by staff at the rescue center – likely would have perished if not for Crowley’s quick thinking.
Marthaler remains impressed by Crowley’s move and shared the news on its Facebook page.
“While we feel we’ve seen it all and can’t be amazed by anything, there is always someone out there to prove us wrong,” the shelter’s post read. “Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well.”
Heat Wave Kills Over 1 BILLION Sea Creatures on Canada West Coast, Experts Say
Researchers in Canada are reporting that over 1 billion marine animals on Canada’s Pacific coast are likely to have died in last week’s record-shattering heat wave, showing how ecosystems not accustomed to such high temperatures are especially vulnerable to changing conditions.
The deadly “heat dome” that settled over British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest for five days is believed to have killed at least 500 people in Canada, and pushed temperatures to extreme temperatures of 104F (40C), sparking wildfires that are burning across the Canadian province.
Multiple experts are now saying that the heat wave also took a horrifying toll on marine life, leaving “postapocalyptic” scenes in its wake.
Marine biologist Christopher Harley of the University of British Columbia knew, when he saw the harrowing weather forecasts, that when the tide dropped the sweltering conditions would absolutely fry the mussels, barnacles and sea stars that were exposed.
When the heatwave actually struck, he was devastated by the stench of decay and the vast death toll sustained by the local ecosystem.
“The shore doesn’t usually crunch when you walk on it,” he told The Guardian. “But there were so many empty mussel shells lying everywhere that you just couldn’t avoid stepping on dead animals while walking around.”
Mussels and barnacles can typical deal with harsh temperatures as high as 113F for a few hours – but any more than that is simply not survivable.
Harley told the New York Times that the loss of mussels likely reaches into the hundreds of millions.
However, when factoring in the death of other marine animals that once lived on the shore and resided on the mussel beds – such as hermit crabs and their crustacean relatives, worms, sea cucumbers and other creatures – the number could quite easily exceed one billion.
“It just feels like one of those postapocalyptic movies,” Harley said.
Harley’s colleagues have also reported on dead sea anemones, rock fish and oysters in the region.
In neighboring Alberta, a massive number of fish also washed up on the shores, likely due to the heat wave.
Fortunately, mussels are able to regenerate over about two years. Starfish and clams, however, live for decades and reproduce much more slowly.
The domino effect of such a vast loss of marine life could be felt on other animals in the ecosystem such as sea ducks, a migratory bird that feeds on mussels in the winter before migrating to the Arctic.
The horrific loss shows that the pace of warming climate conditions is likely outstripping the ability of creatures simply to survive – a prospect that makes Harley feel saddened, but he is still trying to find hope.
“A lot of species are not going to be able to keep up with the pace of change,” he said. “Ecosystems are going to change in ways that are really difficult to predict. We don’t know where the tipping points are.”
Binx the Cat, Who Survived Florida Condo Collapse, Found and Reunited With Family
Amid the tragedy of last month’s collapse of a South Florida condo building, there was a tiny bit of good news when a cat named Binx, who lived on the ninth floor of the Surfside building, was found safe and returned to his family.
“I’m glad that this small miracle could bring some light into the lives of a hurting family today and provide a bright spot for our whole community in the midst of this terrible tragedy,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava in a Friday press conference, reports NPR.
Levine Cava explained that a volunteer who feeds street cats in the area recognized the cat near the building before bringing him to an animal shelter, where it was then identified.
Gina Nicole Vlasek, the co-founder of the The Kitty Campus rescue group, posted on Facebook that a black cat had been found near the rubble of the group before it was brought to the shelter on Thursday night.
“We are so grateful to be able to help in any small way,” Vlasek said.
“All we needed was a ray of hope in this tragedy,” she continued. “Today was one of the most amazing days.. one of the survivors came to see the cat and to determine if it was her families cat and IT WAS!”
The mayor said that animal control workers are continuing to work to recover any pets that may have survived the horrible collapse.
The 12-story Surfside condo collapsed on June 24. At least 79 people have been confirmed dead, with 61 additional residents remaining unaccounted for.