Over the years, I’ve blogged a lot about the animal abuses and outright cruelty incurred by sea animals at SeaWorld. Most recently, I penned a testimonial piece in memoriam for the passing of the killer whale, Tilikum. This case caused global protests by animal activists worldwide when it became a center piece for CNN’s award-winning documentary, Blackfish, that shined a glaring light on the maltreatment of Orca whales in captivity.
The SeaWorld of Canada
Similar to SeaWorld in a lot of respects, Marineland is a themed amusement park and zoo for both marine and land animals. Located in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, this venue has been a much-visited tourist attraction for New Yorkers, Canadians and tourists since 1961.
The primary attractions advertised by the company for the 2017 season (to start 20 May) include dolphins, walruses and, sea lions, a killer whale, beluga whales and rides such as "the world's largest steel roller coaster", Dragon Mountain and "the world's highest triple tower ride", Sky Screamer.
The park has been the center of controversy based on its mishandling of animals at the park. Between November 2016 and January 2017, 11 charges were laid against park by Ontario's animal welfare agency because of its alleged mistreatment of these animals.
Responding to the allegations, the firm has vowed to put the agency to the strictest proof in the courts.
On November 25, 2016, the OSPCA [Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charged Marineland with five counts of animal cruelty under the Ontario SPCA Act over their treatment of peafowls, guineafowls, and American black bears in the zoo portion of the park. The Ontario SPCA alleged that the animals were distressed and did not receive the required standard of care required by law. The company denied the allegations.
Six additional counts of animal cruelty were leveled by the OSPCA on 9 January 2017. The new charges related to the treatment of elk, red deer and fallow deer — and include permitting the animal to experience distress and failing to comply with the legally-defined prescribed standards of care.
Refused to Comment
CBC News contacted Marineland seeking comment on the new charges. The theme park declined to comment on any changes related to the care of its land animal, but issued a statement in which it says the "OSPCA is continuing a publicity campaign at the behest of a band of discredited activists with little relevant expertise or knowledge."
The company's first appearance to plead to these charges has been set for 26 January 2017, and I will be following this post, with a follow-up to this blog at that time.