Ontario charges Marineland in Niagara Falls over care of its black bears

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Published May 31, 2023 at 2:13 pm

marineland black bears

Ontario has charged Marineland over the care of its black bears.

The Ministry of the Solicitor General said it laid the charges against the Niagara Falls, Ont., tourist attraction on Tuesday (May 30).

“Marineland of Canada, Inc. in Niagara Falls, Ontario, has been charged with three counts of failing to comply with an order, related to the care of American Black Bears,” said Brent Ross, a spokesman for the ministry.

Ross said the charges have been laid under a section of the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act that allows an inspector to issue an order to help animals that may be in distress. The facility must comply with the order or otherwise face charges.

The ministry declined to provide more details.

“Given this matter is now before the court, it would be inappropriate for the ministry to comment further,” Ross said.

Marineland issued a statement late today (May 31) saying that the Peoples Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) “required that Marineland construct a 10,000-square-foot facility for the bear cubs to exact specifications separate from our bear habitat. We instead opted to release the bears to a sanctuary. The cubs were always under regular veterinary care and were healthy. We understand they remain healthy in their new homes.”

“We appreciate the work PAWS does to protect animal welfare in Ontario but do not believe the park’s actions justify the laying of charges under Ontario’s animal welfare laws,” the statement continued. “The park looks forward to the legal process commencing so that we may defend ourselves in court with respect to our conduct and care for the bear cubs.”

The park houses an unknown number of black bears that live together in an enclosure with dens and water. Visitors can feed the bears corn pops.

In 2016, when the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals enforced animal cruelty laws, Marineland was charged with one count of failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for about 35 American black bears, including failing to provide adequate and appropriate food and water for them.

The Crown later dropped those charges, saying there was no reasonable chance for a conviction.

In 2013, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals issued an order to Marineland to build separate habitats to protect bear cubs from being mauled and devoured by adult males. Marineland said it would develop a birth control program, which the OSPCA agreed to. The park said it complied with the order.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press (with files by Don Redmond)

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