Animal Justice Testifies at the Senate to Ban Big Cat Captivity

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Today, Animal Justice’s director of legal advocacy Kaitlyn Mitchell, testified before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in support of Bill S-15. This crucial proposed legislation seeks to ban most captivity and breeding of great apes and elephants, and we’re pushing lawmakers to strengthen the bill to include big cats. 

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The committee meeting is part of the bill’s study stage, where the legislation is carefully reviewed and potentially amended before it has a final Senate vote. The bill would then move to the House of Commons to repeat the process, and hopefully become law. 

In Canada, an estimated 4,000 privately owned big cats are held captive in various settings—some confined in prominent zoos in major cities, while many are kept in backyards or at shoddy roadside zoos. Nationally, there is no legislation regulating the treatment of animals in zoos, and most provinces have only minimal protections. In Ontario, the roadside zoo capital of Canada, zoos are able to operate without a license, and there are no provincial restrictions on buying, possessing, or breeding big cats. Due to these weak exotic animal laws, vulnerable animals are left to suffer, while Tiger King-style menageries are allowed to proliferate.  

Like elephants and great apes, big cats have complex social, psychological, physical, and environmental needs that simply cannot be met in captivity. While we are grateful for the progress this bill has made, we must keep the pressure on and ensure lions, tigers, cheetahs, and leopards are protected too. 

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Urge senators to amend Bill S-15 and ensure these majestic felines are protected from captive cruelty. 

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