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Sanctioned Animal Abuse in Canada's Marineland


Canada Sanctioned Captive Marine Mammal Cruelty at Marineland is Animal Cruelty at it's Worst


Jessica Scott-Reid sums up this trajedy, in an article for CBC News - (August 16, 2017)

She writes, "Despite years of bad press and seemingly credible allegations of animal abuse, it comes as little surprise that cruelty charges laid against Marineland by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) were withdrawn last week. The Crown said there was no reasonable chance of conviction.

Animal cruelty convictions are notoriously rare in Canada. But though the law may not recognize it, the very nature of Marineland - to confine animals to unnatural environments for entertainment and profit - is cruel.

This case shows that the struggle to shut down these zoos using the power of the courts is still very much ongoing. Nevertheless... the case succeeded in keeping years-old investigations into Marineland's treatment of animals in the news and catalyzed all sorts of valuable discussions about the purpose these facilities serve in the 21st century.

Bill S-203 

Legislation Pending

As a part of Canada's 'Cruelty to Animals Act' Regulation 60/09 (Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.36) a Bill S-203 was heard by Senators on the Upper Chamber's Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

This bill that would ban whale and dolphin captivity in Canada cleared the Senate's Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on October 26, 2017 by a vote of 9 to 5. It will now be tabled for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate and then move to the report stage. Senators will have an opportunity to debate what's been proposed and vote on it. If the report is adopted, it will move on to third reading.

Marineland and the Vancouver Aquarium are the only two facilities in Canada that have whales and dolphins in captivity. Both want the bill killed and have lobbied hard to make that happen.

"They haven't been shy about it," says the Bill's sponsor, Independent Sen. Murray Sinclair.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May filed a complaint with the federal lobbying watchdog related to efforts by Marineland and the Aquarium to thwart the bill. In her letter to Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd, May raised concerns about possible past and ongoing breaches of the Lobbying Act.

Damning Evidence Provided to the Standing Committee

Marineland's Behaviour

Dating back to 2012, cruelty reports describe:

  • a harbour seal going blind
  • dolphins' skin falling off because of unsanitary water conditions
  • a baby beluga being violently killed by other belugas
  • black bear cubs being killed by dominant males because of cramped living conditions
  • an injured fawn being shot then butchered with a knife because it was still alive, rather than humanely euthanized
  • video of Killer whale Kiska, bleeding as a result of scratching herself on the sides of her small tank

Former Marineland Trainer Critical of Marineland

 Kiska the Orca
Photo: One Green Planet

Phil Demers, who has worked as a marine mammal trainer for 12 years, told members of the Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans he quit Marineland in 2012 after a mechanical breakdown of a water disinfectant system at the park went unfixed for months, despite pleas from maintenance employees and veterinarians.

He said management complacency led a water maintenance supervisor to quit as he couldn't bear to see the animals' suffering. Demers said he soon followed, as he "could no longer tolerate the unnecessary and prolonged suffering of animals."

"Marineland was charged with five counts of animal cruelty late last year, alleging abuse against its black bears, guinea hens and a peacock. In January, the park was charged by the OSPCA with six additional counts of cruelty relating to elk, red deer and fallow deer," said Demers.

Carly Ferguson, President of Ontario Captive Animal Watch stated, "In photo's provided to the Senate's Standing CommitteeI show that Kiska, doesn't even have shelter, and that is a basic standard of care under Ontario Regulation 60/90."

Demers said that between 1999 and 2012, after Marineland was denied an application to capture belugas from the waters near Churchill, Manitoba, its import of wild belugas captured in Russia ramped up.

"As quickly as they died, animals were replaced. Marineland's beluga collection grew from a mere three whales to now nearly 60, with multiple calves being born and dying each season," he said.

"With no credible oversight, these deaths go undocumented and unreported."

Demers says:

  • Marineland's "indiscriminate breeding" of belugas and their inability to maintain natural social groups has caused unnecessary deaths and suffering among newborns.
  • Beluga mothers are forced to witness their calves get displaced and often killed by male belugas as concrete walls impede their ability to escape
  • Dolphins, who have no protection from aggressors - noting a dolphin named Echo is a target of daily attacks
  • Marineland habitually sedates animals in the hopes of mitigating these attacks
  • Thousands of animals are buried in Marineland's on-site mass graves
  • Not a single dolphin or orca born at Marineland is alive today. Not a single one. That's 55 years of failed breeding

"There is about as much educational benefit to be gained in studying dolphins in captivity as there would be studying mankind by only observing prisoners held in solitary confinement."
Jacques Cousteau


Reg. 60/09: Standards Of Care and Administerative Standards

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans Evidence

Opinion: Court Case against Marineland

Bill S-203 jumps to Senate for approval

Sparks Fly as Former Marineland Trainer Debates Whale Captivity

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