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In 2019, the Canadian Parliament adopted Bill S-203, titled the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act [Whales Act], to phase-out the captivity of cetaceans – that is, whales, dolphins, and porpoises – mainly for entertainment purposes. This new law reflected scientific knowledge and signaled a shift in public attitudes relating to cetacean captivity. Undeniably, this piece of legislation raises many legal and normative questions. Drawing on the capabilities approach, espoused by Martha C. Nussbaum, this paper will explore the nature and impact of the Whales Act in the Canadian political and legal landscape, as well as the newly introduced Bill S-218, titled the Jane Goodall Act, which would end the new captivity of elephants, great apes and other non-domesticated captive animals. I suggest that the principles of Nussbaum’s approach should guide the enactment and interpretation of laws relating to animals.