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Leading zoos and animal advocates support Jane Goodall Act, with new protection for big cats and other species

OTTAWA, March 22, 2022 – Today, Senator Marty Klyne will reintroduce the Jane Goodall Act, with the support of a strong coalition of Canada’s leading zoos – including the two largest, the Toronto Zoo and the Calgary Zoo – and Canada’s leading animal advocacy organizations, including the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, Humane Canada and Animal Justice. The Honourable Murray Sinclair introduced the bill in 2020 to protect wild animals in captivity. With his and Dr. Jane Goodall’s blessing, and contributions from this coalition, the bill contains new legal protections for captive big cats, bears, wolves, seals, sea lions, walruses, certain monkeys, and dangerous reptiles, such as crocodiles and giant pythons. The bill would also phase out elephant captivity in Canada.


“I am honoured to take the handoff from the Honourable Murray Sinclair and to be able to work with Canada’s leading zoos and animal advocates toward achieving the strongest protections for captive wild animals in the world,” said Senator Klyne. “Their expertise and passion have contributed to strengthening the bill to ban new captivity of lions, tigers, bears and hundreds more species at roadside zoos. Indigenous values recognize our connection to other beings, and I expect the law will evolve to recognize that a wide range of animals are sentient beings, averting wrongful and inhumane captivity like that of Kiska the lone orca, and giving raise to sanctuaries like the Whale Sanctuary planned in Nova Scotia.”


There are up to 4,000 privately owned big cats in Canada, with reports of poor conditions, safety concerns and lack of oversight. There are 100–150 wildlife attractions in Canada where animals may receive protection under the Act.


Dr. Jane Goodall and the Honourable Murray Sinclair


“Today is an important day for animals,” said Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, world-renowned conservationist, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace. “So many of them are in desperate need of our help and the Jane Goodall Act establishes protection and support for animals under human care. It is a monumental step forward for animals, people, and the environment. I am honoured to lend my name to this world-leading legislation that is supported by a wonderful coalition of government, conservationists, animal welfare groups and accredited zoos. Together we can and will provide a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves and put an end to the misery that is wildlife trafficking."


“This legislation will further reconciliation with the natural world. When we treat animals well, we act with both self-respect and mutual respect,” said the Honourable Murray Sinclair, a former senator and Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, who authored the original legislation. “It is an honour that Senator Klyne has sponsored this bill, an inspiring continuation of Dr. Goodall’s legendary work for animals.” 


Canada’s Leading Zoos and Animal Advocacy Organizations


The Toronto Zoo, the Calgary Zoo, the Granby Zoo, Assiniboine Park Zoo and the Montreal Biodome have announced their support for the Jane Goodall Act, and contributed expert advice on the new protections for big cats and other species. “Our zoos have a long history of supporting wildlife conservation in Canada and around the globe.  Our commitment to animal welfare, conservation, science and education programs is vital to the survival of many species,” said Dolf DeJong, CEO of the Toronto Zoo. “The Toronto Zoo is proud to support the Jane Goodall Act as it represents a critical step forward in protecting wild animals.” The five supporting zoos are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the accrediting body with the highest standards in their field in the Americas.


Six leading Canadian animal advocacy organizations have supported the bill: the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, Humane Canada, Animal Justice, World Animal Protection Canada, Humane Society International/Canada and Zoocheck Canada. These organizations have also contributed their expertise to the bill, including around the relocation of animals from unsuitable conditions to sanctuaries. “The Jane Goodall Act is a significant evolution in animal welfare in Canada,” said Barbara Cartwright, CEO of Humane Canada, the federation of SPCAs and humane societies. “Protecting animals in captivity and in the wild signals an unprecedented shift in Parliament toward integrated thinking about animals, people and the environment.”


“The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo is honoured to be part of this historic legislation,” said Dr. Clément Lanthier, President and CEO, Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo and President, World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). “Every day at Canada’s leading zoos, our amazing teams of dedicated specialists work to ensure that the animals we love receive exceptional care. The Jane Goodall Act will ensure the welfare of countless captive animals across Canada.”


“This Jane Goodall Act is a welcome step toward improving Canada's outdated animal protection laws,” said Camille Labchuk, lawyer and Executive Director of Animal Justice, Canada’s only national animal law advocacy organization. “Animal Justice is especially pleased that the bill would offer animals limited legal standing in court—a groundbreaking move toward making sure our legal system prioritizes their well-being."


Jane Goodall Act Animal Care Organizations


The bill creates a new designation for Jane Goodall Act ‘animal care organizations,’ including zoos, aquariums, and sanctuaries that meet the highest standards of care and other criteria, including whistleblower protection. Such organizations may continue their animal care, conservation, non-harmful science and public education programs for most species protected by the Act, subject to potential conditions. This distinction will allow some species to be phased out at roadside zoos, but not at credible organizations that serve animal interests, such as Canada’s AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and sanctuaries accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.


To acquire or breed big cats and other species covered by the new protections, other individuals or organizations may apply for permits to keep affected species for their best interests or non-harmful scientific research on a case-by-case basis. The Act’s protections can expand to more species in the future, through the bill’s “Noah Clause.”




The Granby Zoo will transition out of elephant captivity, while Canada’s other AZA zoos do not have elephants. The bill would phase out elephant captivity nationally, similar to Canada’s 2019 whale and dolphin laws. Over 20 elephants live in captivity in Canada at four locations.




Ape conservation and science programs will continue at the Toronto Zoo, the Calgary Zoo, the Granby Zoo and Assiniboine Park Zoo. As with the original bill, apes would gain a form of legal standing, a precedent that may help these species by influencing policies in other countries.


Wildlife Trafficking


The bill now addresses wildlife trafficking by supporting elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn bans, and other improvements through government regulations or amendments. Senator Klyne will work with the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada and other partners to develop changes.




“The Jane Goodall Act strengthens Canada’s animal protection laws and fulfills the Government’s mandate to protect animals in captivity. Canadians across the political spectrum care about animal welfare, and I hope to see this bill supported by MPs from every party.”


Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Member of Parliament for Beaches–East York and Jane Goodall Act House of Commons sponsor


“This is a historic bill that would make Canada a global leader in protecting wildlife and animal welfare. The unsustainable trade in wild animals requires urgent action, to prevent cruelty, extinction and future pandemics.”


Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director, World Animal Protection Canada


“"HSI/Canada has witnessed the suffering and deplorable conditions in roadside zoos, having intervened to rescue hundreds of animals from such facilities. We fully support this landmark Act, to help prevent cruelty and neglect, reflecting Canadians’ desire to protect captive wild animals.”


Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director, Humane Society International/Canada


“Zoocheck is extremely pleased to support the Jane Goodall Act. This thoughtful, proactive and long overdue legislation will make Canada more humane for animals, as well as safer for Canadians, by reducing the number of dangerous animals held by unqualified people.”


Rob Laidlaw, Executive Director, Zoocheck Canada


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Media Contact Information:


Toronto Zoo

Amy Naylor


[email protected]


For further information, please contact:

Marty McKendry
Senior Advisor – Parliamentary Strategy
Office of Senator Marty Klyne
[email protected]

Jo-Anne Stayner, Fresh PR
Representing the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada
[email protected]

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