Group condemns reopening of Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario

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Published June 28, 2024 at 9:36 am

marineland niagara falls reopening

Marineland reopens for the season today but an animal rights group is not happy with the plan.

Earlier this year there were unfounded claims that Marineland would close permanently. Phil Demers, a former Marineland trainer turned activist, wrote on X that employees were let go and the park would not open this season.

Typically the park opens on the May long weekend but shortly after Demer’s statement, Marineland announced it would reopen for its 63rd season on June 28.

On its website, Marineland says it will reopen today with a “modified experience” and they are offering discounted tickets. Admission for adults is $14.95 and it’s $9.95 for children five to 12 years old and seniors.

The land and animal exhibits, amusement rides, the Hungry Bear restaurant, the aquarium, the Penguin Palace, and educational presentations will not open this year.

“However, visitors can still enjoy a range of exciting features and experiences,” Marineland wrote on its website. “Marineland will offer access to the Polar Splash splash pad, viewing of dolphins at King Waldorf Stadium, viewing of beluga whales at Friendship Cove and Picnic Areas.”

The reopening comes as Marineland prepares for redevelopment under new ownership, according to the website.

The reopening comes amid numerous calls to shut down the park or shift away from keeping animals.

Last summer, freedom of information requests revealed that 14 whales and one dolphin have died since 2019 at the park.

In March, a court found the tourist attraction guilty of failing to comply with three orders issued by the province’s Animal Welfare Services related to the living conditions of three young black bears. Sentencing is scheduled on Aug. 15.

marineland black bears

Animal Justice, a Canadian nonprofit organization, issued a press release today condemning the reopening.

With the dolphins and beluga whales viewing still open, the park will continue to profit from using animals it has shown repeatedly it is unable to safely care for, Animal Justice said in the press release.

“For the sake of the animals still trapped at Marineland, let’s hope this is the last season the park will ever keep animals,” said Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director at Animal Justice.

“With its track record of tragedy and neglect, and years of legal battles and public condemnation, Marineland shouldn’t get any more chances.”

In a response emailed to insauga.com, Marineland said “Animal Justice is a group of lawyers who generally believe any animal in captivity is thereby suffering abuse.”

“Not a single one of them has any relevant training or expertise in marine mammal medicine or care and quite literally are not legally qualified to care for a cat in Ontario,” the statement reads.  “They make huge negative allegations without facts, knowledge or understanding.  They raise a lot of money for themselves doing so.  Alleging the conditions or care at Marineland are bad is as valid, coming from them, as alleging the conditions or care at University Health Network are bad because people die in hospital. All they say is animals have died and therefore there is something terribly wrong, donate to us.”

“Marineland is inspected nearly weekly by Ontario Animal Welfare services and real qualified veterinary experts care for the animals,” the statement continues. “Animals at Marineland have and will die, just like anyone’s pets, from old age and natural disease processes. As long as the donations from the public keep flowing in, groups like Animal Justice will continue to make false allegations against Marineland.”
“Given the approach to this topic Marineland does not expect any of the foregoing to end up in your article or, if any does, only a neutered sanitized version,” the statement concludes.

While the federal law now prohibits keeping whales and dolphins in captivity under the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, Marineland’s existing animals are exempt from the laws.

Animal Justice wants the government to intervene in Marineland’s case.

“We call on governments and authorities to step in with a concrete plan in place to ensure the welfare of the animals currently housed at Marineland, either by relocating them to accredited sanctuaries or providing care with strict oversight for those who can’t be moved at this time,” said Labchuk.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with a statement from Marineland.

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