In November 2023, a new animal protection Bill S-15 was presented at the Senate of Canada aiming at phasing out elephant and great ape captivity by banning zoos and private owners from acquiring new animals, or breeding existing ones, and banning the use of these animals in performances for entertainment, such as circuses. However, if the bill is passed, the new prohibition on possessing an elephant or great ape would not apply to those currently in captivity.

The bill was introduced in the Senate on 31st November 2023 by Government Representative Senator Marc Gold on behalf of the Minister of Environment, Steven Guilbeault and is an Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. Bill S-15 builds upon the foundations of Bill S-203 (ending cetacean captivity for entertainment) and embodies the principles of Bill S-241 (the Jane Goodall Bill).

According to the Bill, exceptions would be established to allow for veterinary care; federally-permitted or provincially-licensed scientific research or conservation programs; or for circumstances in which the captivity is in the animal’s best interests and in accordance with a federal permit or a provincial license.

There are around 30 great apes (chimps, gorillas and orangs) held in captivity in Canada, and over 20 captive elephants, including Lucy, the solitary elephant at the Edmonton Zoo. There are also more than 1.4 million wild animals kept as pets in Canadian households, and Canada continues to import hundreds of thousands of wild animals every year. To cover these, in addition to Bill S-15, animal protection organisations continue to urge Parliament to pass the Jane Goodall Act (Bill S-241), which would significantly restrict the ownership of wild animals in Canada.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.