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Bill Aiming to Protect Wild Animals in Captivity

Montréal, March 22, 2022 – The Jane Goodall Act is set to be reintroduced in the Canadian Senate by Senator Marty Klyne today. Building on Canada’s 2019 law phasing out dolphin and whale captivity, the bill aims to put in place critical new legal protections for wild and exotic animals kept in captivity.

Notably, the Jane Goodall Act would:

  • Phase out elephant captivity in Canada.
  • Establish a mandatory federal licensing scheme for institutions that hold great apes, big cats, wolves, bears, seals, sea lions, walruses and other species, requiring that such institutions demonstrate that it is in the animals’ best interests to be kept in captivity.
  • Prohibit the use of these species in performances, effectively banning animal use in circuses.
  • Allow animals’ interests to be represented in any judicial proceedings instituted under the Act.


“Current legal protections afforded to wild and exotic animals kept in captivity are grossly insufficient and highly variable from one province to the next,” explains Sophie Gaillard, Director of Animal Advocacy and Legal Affairs at the Montreal SPCA. “The Jane Goodall Act would put in place important safeguards to remedy this situation. By granting animals a limited form of legal standing, it also represents a remarkable step forward for animals in the legal system.”

Today, over 20 elephants live in captivity in Canada, including Lucy, an Asian elephant who has been kept alone for over 15 years at the Edmonton Zoo. Elephants are highly social animals whose complex cognitive and emotional abilities are now well documented. In the wild, they inhabit warm climates and their home ranges can extend up to 11 000 square kilometers. It is therefore difficult to imagine elephants’ best interests being served in captivity in Canada.

Across the country, many animals belonging to other wild and exotic species also suffer in captivity, frequently kept in substandard conditions in roadside zoos or private ownership. There are an estimated 1.5 million privately owned exotic animals in Canada, including nearly 4,000 big cats.

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Source: Montreal SPCA

Media contact: Anita Kapuscinska, Senior Consultant, Corporate Development and Media Relations, Montréal SPCA, 514-359-5198, anitak@spca.com.

About the Montréal SPCA – Founded in 1869, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (now known simply as the Montréal SPCA) was the first animal-welfare organization in Canada. Today, the Montreal SPCA is the largest animal protection organization in Quebec, speaking on behalf of animals wherever there is ignorance, cruelty, exploitation, or neglect.

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