November 17, 2020 – Senator Murray Sinclair Announcement

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WINNIPEG – OTTAWA – Politics – Jane Goodall, the noted primatologist, conservationist, and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, joins Manitoba Senator Murray Sinclair via videoconference for an announcement concerning a bill that Senator Sinclair plans to introduce in the upper chamber.

Dr. Jane Goodall and Senator Murray Sinclair have teamed up to protect captive great apes, elephants and other wild animals in captivity, and to ban the import of elephant ivory and hunting trophies into Canada. Today, Senator Sinclair will introduce the Jane Goodall Act in the Senate of Canada. He will soon deliver a major speech on the bill, planned for Thursday, November 19.

“Jane Goodall is a hero who inspires us to do better by all creatures of Creation with whom we share this earth,” said Senator Sinclair. “Named in Dr. Goodall’s honour, this bill will create laws to better protect many animals, reflecting Indigenous values of respect and stewardship.”

“We live in a time, and a world, where respecting and caring for one another, and our shared planet is the only way forward,” said Dr. Goodall. “As humans around the world accept that animals are sentient beings, there is a growing call for improved living conditions and treatment of captive animals. This bill, being tabled by Senator Sinclair has the best interests of captive animals in mind. And the proposed ban of elephant ivory products and hunting trophies in Canada will decrease the worldwide market which fuels the senseless slaughter of endangered species. I commend Senator Sinclair for tabling this bill and I am honoured that it bears my name.”

The legislation builds on Canada’s 2019 laws phasing out whale and dolphin captivity for entertainment. The Jane Goodall Act would:

  • Ban new captivity of great apes and elephants unless licensed for their best interests, including individual welfare and conservation, or non-harmful scientific research;
  • Ban the use of great apes and elephants in performance, including elephant rides;
  • Establish legal standing for great apes, elephants, whales and dolphins in sentencing for

    captivity offences, allowing court orders for relocation or improved conditions;

  • Empower government to extend all the protections to other species of captive, non- domesticated animals – such as big cats – by regulation with the “Noah Clause”; and
  • Ban the import of elephant ivory and hunting trophies.

    Member of Parliament Nathaniel Erskine-Smith will sponsor the Jane Goodall Act in the House of Commons, if passed by the Senate. “Animals think and feel, and they deserve our respect and compassion,” said Mr. Erskine-Smith. “This bill is an important step forward for our animal protection laws, and it’s hard to think of two more powerful advocates than Senator Sinclair and Dr. Goodall.”

Captive Great Apes and Elephants in Canada

In Canada, there are 33 great apes in captivity: 9 chimpanzees; 18 gorillas; and six orangutans. The orangutans will not have outdoor access until at least next year. One orangutan, born in the wild, has lived indoors since the exhibit opened in 1974.

Over 20 elephants live in captivity in Canada, including one elephant kept alone. African Lion Safari uses elephants for performance and rides, resulting in an attack last year.

“This legislation is not necessarily at odds with all zoos – it is for animals,” said Senator Sinclair. “I look to credible zoos as potential partners, and hope the bill generates dialogue and innovation, with consensus on putting the animals first.”

Elephant Ivory and Hunting Trophy Ban

To conserve elephants, the bill will enhance Canada’s restrictions on importing elephant ivory with a stricter ban, answering Dr. Goodall’s 2019 call to action. The government currently bans sales of ivory from elephants killed post-1990. However, ivory is difficult to date, and illegal supplies easily enter the Canadian market. The bill will also ban importing elephant hunting trophies. Between 2007 and 2016, Canada allowed the import of over 400 elephant skulls and 260 elephant feet.

The “Noah Clause”, Tiger King and Big Cats

With the “Noah Clause,” the bill authorizes the federal cabinet to extend the legal protections to additional captive, non-domesticated species through regulation. The Government could protect ‘designated animals’ after consulting with experts on species’ ability to live a good life in captivity.

Senator Sinclair pointed to the topic of big cats and the documentary Tiger King. “I am excited this bill can protect many animals, based on science. If the Jane Goodall Act becomes law, I hope government protects big cats, to prevent the kind of shameful exploitation seen in Tiger King.” There are an estimated 1.5 million privately owned exotic animals in Canada, including nearly 4,000 big cats.

“Canada urgently needs to forge a new, more respectful relationship with all animals. The Jane Goodall Act takes a historic step forward toward a more compassionate, caring society, including giving individual animals a voice in court,” says Camille Labchuk, Executive Director, Animal Justice.