Not Everyone Loves Marineland

petros

The Central Scrutinizer
Nov 21, 2008
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Low Earth Orbit
Marineland denies mistreating animals

'We love them dearly'


Former workers at Marineland — one of Ontario's top tourist attractions — are accusing the facility of mistreating animals.

The charges were documented in theToronto Star on Tuesday.

Phil Demers, a former trainer at the Niagara Falls aquarium, says some of the animals are not well cared for.

"Before I left, a lot of the animals eyes were ulcerated, we had to treat all the animals with antibiotics and valium and a number of different medications," he told CBC News.

Some of the animals have gone blind due to what Demers alleges are poor water conditions. Other animals, he says, are locked in waterless pens for days.

"I would assess the animals' health as very poor when I left," Demers said.

But John Holer, owner of Marineland, denied those allegations. He told the Star in an interview that “We take care of the animals — better than I would take care of myself.”

June Mergel, the director of veterinary services for Marineland, also denies any animals are being mistreated.

"It would break my heart to think we would ever mistreat [the animals]. We love them dearly," said Mergel.

"We've been here for 50 years, so we have a lot of ex-employees that cycle through the area, and I can find you as many employees — ex-employees — that will say good things about Marineland."

Bill Peters, the national director of the Canadian Associations of Zoos and Aquariums, says it is really a self-regulated industry. In large part there is no one responsible for monitoring.

Peters admits "it is a real concern."

He said that CAZA inspected Marineland last year and gave it a pass and that CAZA has not received any complaints about the facility since that time.

But Peters says the only province that has actual laws forcing zoos and aquariums to be accredited is British Columbia. Those laws require a facility to maintain a certain standard of care.

"There are a lot of substandard facilities, in Ontario, they are commonly called road side zoos, and they're just not accountable," Peters admits
 
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eh1eh

Blah Blah Blah
Aug 31, 2006
10,749
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Under a Lone Palm
Who cares as long as they are stimulating the economy. There are 1001 things that fuk over animals every day but the self righteous do gooders have to pick on the obvious targets instead of looking at themselves. I say screw the animals, god put them on earth for humans to exploit as they see fit. The entire globe is here so humans can drive cars around on it and totally rape every environment, that animals use, if it means we will be sustained regardless of any other species.

In summary. If you inhabit this planet and live a 'western' lifestyle then you are part of the problem and shouldn't be looking at a theme park to bolster your ego and feel self righteous.
Unless that's how you roll.
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
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Kiska, Marineland's lone killer whale and last captive orca in Canada, dies
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Liam Casey
Published Mar 10, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 4 minute read

Kiska, a killer whale at Marineland and the last captive orca in Canada who has swam alone in her tank for more than a decade, has died.


The Ontario government said Marineland, a theme park in Niagara Falls, Ont., informed the province Thursday of her death.


The province had Animal Welfare Service Officers at the park Friday as Marineland performed a necropsy on the animal, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General said.

Marineland’s owner, Marie Holer, declined to comment to The Canadian Press when reached by phone.

The park told the Niagara Falls Review that the killer whale’s health declined recently “despite intensive interventions by her caregivers, Marineland’s veterinarian team and international veterinarians with expertise in supporting the health and well-being of cetaceans.”

Kiska was believed to be 47 years old and had lived at Marineland since being captured in Icelandic waters in 1979.



She was captured alongside Keiko, who became famous in the movie Free Willy, and the pair lived together for a few years at Marineland in the 1980s. Keiko was sold to an aquarium in Mexico in 1985 and eventually ended up at SeaWorld.

Kiska appeared in shows at Marineland for years but has not performed for more than a decade. She spent that time in a large pool at Friendship Cove separated from a pod of belugas.

Kiska gave birth to five calves during her time at Marineland, but they all died young.

She has swam alone since 2011 after SeaWorld won a bitter custody battle with Marineland over Ikaika, a young male killer whale it wanted back.


Christine Santos, who trained Kiska for 12 years until Marineland fired her in 2012, teared up as she looked at old photographs of the orca.

“I’m in shock, but at the same time I’m just really relieved she’s not alone anymore,” Santos said.

Kiska was a calm killer whale and easy to work with, she said.

“We just developed a special bond,” Santos said. “She was a good mama to her calves, especially Athena and Hudson.”

Kiska would keep an eye on the pair, making sure they didn’t cause trouble with each other or the other killer whale in the tank, Santos said. She also outwitted new trainers, tricking them into giving “her more fish and more rubs.”

Kiska also had a close relationship with another orca captured in Iceland in 1981, Nootka.


But her mood changed after Nootka and Kiska’s calf, Athena, died in 2008.

“She lost her best friend and her baby and you could see her sadness,” Santos said.

The deaths left Kiska alone with Ikaika, a young bull killer whale who was growing rapidly and full of sexual energy, court documents show.

But SeaWorld wanted Ikaika back and took Marineland to court, a case it ultimately won. The orca, known as Ike to Marineland staff, moved into SeaWorld’s park in San Diego in 2011.

Kiska has swam alone ever since.

“In my last year you could see her decline and her behaviour changed,” Santos said. “She lost that spirit, that happy-go-lucky way about her.”

Phil Demers, a former Marineland trainer turned activist, received drone footage two weeks ago that showed Kiska had moved to a smaller pool, which he described as the medical pool.


That pool has a shallow area that would allow staff and veterinarians to examine her closely by dropping the water levels.

“It’s just sad, she unfortunately never had a chance at a second chance to move away from Marineland.”

The group Humane Canada issued a statement about what it called Kiska’s heartbreaking life and death.

“Humane Canada is saddened and outraged by the passing of Kiska — also known as the “loneliest Orca in the world,” it said.

“This news is heartbreaking to everyone who has spent years advocating for her freedom and release.”

Social media videos in recent years have shown Kiska thrashing her head at the side of the pool.

Ontario’s Animal Welfare Services has been conducting an inspection at Marineland since July 2020 over concerns about the park’s water.


In 2021, it found all marine mammals to be in distress due to the water, court documents show.

Marineland refuted those findings, saying its animals were not in distress.

The inspection remains ongoing three years later.

Brent Ross, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Solicitor General that oversees animal welfare in the province, said it has inspected Marineland 160 times since January 2020.

The province refused to provide details of those inspections.

But court documents filed in 2021 showed the province ordered Marineland to repair the water system in the pools that house beluga whales, dolphins, walruses, sea lions and Kiska.

Marineland appealed the order on May 18, denying the animals were in distress and noting that an unknown number of whale deaths at the park were not related to the water issues. Marineland dropped its appeal.


A number of animals have died at Marineland in recent years, including four walruses and an unknown number of beluga whales.

In 2021, Marineland moved five beluga whales to a marine park in Connecticut. One of those whales died within months of the move and another died within a year of the move.

The deaths prompted the U.S. government to begin an investigation into the move. That probe remains ongoing.

Last week, Marineland moved its last two walruses, Smooshi and her daughter, Koyuk, to a new SeaWorld park in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

In 2019, the federal government passed an anti-captivity law that made it illegal to import and keep killer whales captive, although Kiska was grandfathered in.

She will likely be the last captive killer whale ever kept in the country.
 

Taxslave2

House Member
Aug 13, 2022
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"In 2019, the federal government passed an anti-captivity law that made it illegal to import and keep killer whales captive, although Kiska was grandfathered in."

Holy crap, the Trudopians passed a law that actually makes sense, for once.
Well, a room full of monkeys with keyboards will eventually turn out a successful novel.
 

Taxslave2

House Member
Aug 13, 2022
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The real problem with banning whales being kept in captivity, even more demand for whale watching tours. These boats harass the pods all day long, 7 days a week.
 

Wise

Electoral Member
Mar 3, 2019
273
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18
Some of the animals have gone blind due to what Demers alleges are poor water conditions.
That is unfortunate.
But John Holer, owner of Marineland, denied those allegations. He told the Star in an interview that “We take care of the animals — better than I would take care of myself.”
You take care of yourself - you always walk on land. You are not an animal in water, though. Those are different things... ? Somebody said animals need better water.
 

Taxslave2

House Member
Aug 13, 2022
2,751
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That is unfortunate.

You take care of yourself - you always walk on land. You are not an animal in water, though. Those are different things... ? Somebody said animals need better water.
Has that somebody ever drank anything besides chlorinated city water?
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
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Beluga, dolphin die at Marineland, Ontario gov't says
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published May 08, 2023 • 1 minute read

The Ontario government says a beluga whale and a bottlenose dolphin at Marineland have died.


The Ministry of the Solicitor General says the Niagara Falls, Ont., tourist attraction informed the province about the deaths.


A ministry spokesperson says necropsies have been conducted by professionals retained by Marineland as required under regulations.

Marineland did not immediately return a request for comment, but told the Niagara Falls Review that Sonar, a dolphin, and Kodiak, a beluga, died last week.

The deaths come two months after Kiska, Canada’s last remaining captive killer whale, died at the park.

Ontario’s Animal Welfare Services team of anti-cruelty officers have been engaged in an active inspection of Marineland for the past three years.
 

Hoof Hearted

House Member
Jul 23, 2016
4,254
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I was leaving The Shriner's Circus in my car with my daughters years ago when they were toddlers.

These protesters with placards were protesting the abuse of the elephant. So I stuck my head out of the car window and yelled...

"Relax! That elephant looks better groomed than all of you put together!" lol!

Of course they rained cuss words down on me while I drove away giggling like a little school girl.
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
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Another beluga dies at Marineland, bringing total whale deaths to 15 since 2019
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Liam Casey
Published Dec 15, 2023 • 3 minute read

Another beluga whale has died at Marineland, bringing the number of whales that have died at the Niagara Falls, Ont., tourist attraction to 15 over the past four years.


The province’s Animal Welfare Services has been investigating Marineland since it took over animal cruelty enforcement in 2020.


“The ministry is aware of the death of a beluga whale and a sea lion at Marineland,” Brent Ross, a spokesman with the Ministry of the Solicitor General, wrote in an email.

Since January 2020, Marineland has made the ministry aware of the deaths of 14 beluga whales, one orca, one bottlenose dolphin, one harbour seal, one grey seal and two California sea lions, Ross added.

Marineland did not respond to a request for comment.

Marineland says on its website that it has a “strong record” of providing for the welfare of its animals and will “continue to prioritize their health and well-being.”


The office of Solicitor General Michael Kerzner, which oversees the ministry in charge of Animal Welfare Services, said the province is a leader in the protection of animals.

“AWS continues to conduct compliance inspections at Marineland to determine if the standards of care are being met,” Hunter Kell, Kerzner’s spokesman, wrote in an email.

“As previously shown, AWS will not hesitate to issue orders if Marineland is not in compliance with all rules, regulations, and standards of care regarding the welfare of animals.”

The news of the beluga death comes days after a third beluga whale transferred from Marineland in 2021 died at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.

Marineland sold five belugas to the U.S. facility and they were moved in May 2021. Mystic said the two previous beluga deaths were due to pre-existing conditions they had coming from Marineland.


The U.S. government launched an investigation after the first two beluga deaths and the probe remains ongoing. The Canadian federal government has previously said they are not investigating the move.

The week the whales were moved, Ontario’s Animal Welfare Services found all marine mammals at Marineland to be in distress due to poor water quality. In court documents, Marineland denied its animals were in distress and denied water played a role in any whale death.

A few weeks ago, former Marineland trainer Phil Demers, who is the co-founder of animal activist organization UrgentSeas, launched a drone over the beluga tanks at Marineland, which is closed to the public for the winter. Video of that drone footage was posted online by UrgentSeas and appeared to show one beluga floating “listlessly,” Demers said.


“It didn’t look healthy,” Demers said. “It reminded me of the belugas I’ve seen in bad shape right before they died during my time at Marineland.”

They put the drone up again over the beluga tanks on Sunday and counted 36 belugas. There had been 37 belugas at the park when The Canadian Press visited in June.

“We could be angry that beluga whales are dying en masse, as we should be, but equally, it’s frustrating that exactly nothing is being done to stop it,” Demers said. “Where’s the accountability for Marineland or the province, which is supposed to protect the animals in captivity.”

A Canadian Press investigation revealed earlier this year that 13 belugas, a dolphin and the country’s lone killer whale, Kiska, have died at Marineland since 2019.

Twelve of the beluga deaths occurred within a two-year window. Documents obtained through freedom-of-information laws show a beluga named Ikora dying on Oct. 24, 2019, followed by 10 others and a beluga named Bull dying on Nov. 23, 2021.

The province’s four-year-long investigation of Marineland remains shrouded in mystery, with officials refusing to disclose details of its probe, what it is doing at the park and how the animals died.
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
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Two more belugas dead at Marineland, bringing total whale deaths to 17 since 2019
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Liam Casey
Published Mar 26, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read
Ontario says two more beluga whales have died at Marineland.
Ontario says two more beluga whales have died at Marineland.
Two more beluga whales have died at Marineland, bringing the total number of whale deaths since 2019 to 17.


Ontario’s Animal Welfare Services has been investigating the Niagara Falls tourist attraction since 2020.


“The ministry has been made aware that two beluga whales at Marineland have passed away this March,” said Brent Ross, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the government body responsible for animal welfare.

The province did not say how the whales died.

In a statement, Marineland said “independent necropsies confirm the two belugas both died from torsion after valiant medical efforts to assist them.” Torsion refers to an abnormal twisting of the stomach.

“All the whales are under constant weekly supervision and oversight by the government regulator and cared for daily by in-house vets and numerous external consultants,” Marineland’s statement said.


“The reality is that all animals eventually die from one cause or another whether in the wild or captivity.”

Sixteen beluga whales and one killer whale have died at the park since 2019, The Canadian Press has learned through freedom-of-information requests and other sources.

One bottlenose dolphin, one harbour seal, one grey seal and two California sea lions have also died during that time, the province has said.

Three other belugas from Marineland have died at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. The most recent death there occurred in December. Marineland sold five belugas to the U.S. facility and they were moved in May 2021. Mystic said the two previous beluga deaths were due to pre-existing conditions they had coming from Marineland.


The U.S. government launched an investigation after the first two beluga deaths and the probe is ongoing. The Canadian federal government has previously said it is not investigating the move.

The same week the whales were moved, Ontario’s Animal Welfare Services declared all marine mammals at Marineland in distress due to poor water quality. In court documents, Marineland denied its animals were in distress and denied water played a role in any whale death.

Marineland says on its website that it has a “strong record” of providing for the welfare of its animals and will “continue to prioritize their health and well-being.”

There were 37 belugas at the park last summer when The Canadian Press visited Marineland.


Twelve of the beluga deaths occurred within a two-year window. Documents obtained through freedom-of-information laws show a beluga named Ikora dying on Oct. 24, 2019, followed by 10 others and a beluga named Bull dying on Nov. 23, 2021.

The province’s four-year-long investigation of Marineland remains shrouded in mystery, with officials refusing to disclose details of its probe, what it is doing at the park and how the animals died.

Solicitor General Michael Kerzner said the province’s Animal Welfare Services have inspected Marineland more than 200 times since 2020.

“I’m upset to hear anything like this,” he said. “Our job as a government is to make sure that our laws are followed. And we have one of the strongest laws anywhere in the country.”


Phil Demers, a former Marineland trainer turned outspoken critic of the park demanded accountability and transparency.

“Marineland continues to try to hide the severity of the situation their animals are enduring, but dead whales are difficult to hide,” said Demers, co-founder of UrgentSeas.

“When will there be accountability? Where is the government?”

Marineland was recently found guilty under the province’s animal cruelty laws over its care of three young black bears. The park kept three bears in cramped quarters with little access to water and no climbing structures. Sentencing is set for August.

Marineland banned a Canadian Press reporter from its property last year.