Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 Marineland Year in Review

If Marineland thought 2016 was surely going to be the year things finally calmed down for the facility which has been under siege for nearly 5 years, they were wrong. 

Marineland made the news in 2016 arguably more than any other year in recent memory, creating for themselves international headlines for all the wrong reasons.  The year wrapped up with animal cruelty charges finally being laid against the park by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

According to court records, Marineland owner John Holer stepped down as President of the company this year due to undisclosed health issues and is no longer considered an employee of Marineland.  Holer was seen however and recorded at the facility throughout 2016 including being captured in a now infamous deleted tweet by Manitoba Senator Don Plett.

Despite launching another SLAPP style lawsuit against a teen from California, Marineland made no major movements in the various existing civil lawsuits they are currently involved in.  Several of these cases are now over 4 years old and have not reached the discovery phase.

In 2016 Marineland saw the potential markets for their valuable Beluga whales get dramatically smaller.  The United States passed new regulations banning the import of Beluga whales and their offspring that have been previously captured from the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia.  Many of Marineland's whales are from this wild endangered population making them ineligible to be imported to U.S. facilities.

Vancouver Aquarium's Beluga tanks emptied with the sudden death of their only two on-site whales. This has re-ignited a fierce debate in British Columbia on whether or not to finally end the cetacean captivity program at Vancouver Aquarium.  With this current environment, it is unlikely Vancouver Aquarium will be filling their tanks with Marineland's Belugas right now.

Let's take a look at some other Marineland related highlights from 2016:


Ontario Captive Animal Watch hosted a polar bear plunge into Lake Ontario.  The event which drew dozens of participants helped to raise money for the ongoing legal costs of Phil Demers, one of several people currently entangled in civil litigation with Marineland.  Demers, an ex-trainer at Marineland helped to bring intense worldwide media attention to the plight of the marine mammals at Marineland beginning in 2012.

Last Chance for Animals, a California based animal advocacy group published parts of their undercover investigation of Marineland.   It contained disturbing photos and video of the conditions of the Beluga whales at the park.  Marineland served a notice of libel to LCA and to this website Marineland: In Depth for simply reporting on the investigation.


Over 5000 people signed an online Parliament of Canada e-petition supporting the passing of Senate Bill S-203 currently making its way through the Senate of Canada.   The bill, introduced by Senator Wilfred Moore would phase out the captivity of cetaceans in Canada and has passed second reading in the Senate.   It is now being studied at committee. 


Marineland continued to try and use the publicly funded legal system to silence anyone speaking out against the park.   They filed their ninth lawsuit in an Ontario courtroom against Zach Affolter a young marine biology student from California.   The lawsuit which was seeking a million dollars in damages has since stalled and centered around an unfinished online film about Kiska, the last remaining captive orca in the country and residing at Marineland.

Nearly 500 people turned out for the annual opening day demonstration at Marineland, many holding signs supporting Senate Bill S-203.  This would mark the first of two public demonstrations held outside the park this year.


Photos taken from visitors attending Marineland at various times and locations showed just how poor attendance at the park was during the first half of the season.  As in past years, there were no new attractions introduced and many parts of the facility appeared to be closed due to maintenance issues. This seemed to spawn bad reviews on various online review websites from disgruntled visitors.


Zeus a 13 year old male Pacific walrus became the subject of international concern after horrible images of him surfaced at Marineland.   The photos and video appear to show the walrus severely lethargic and emaciated, especially when compared to a healthy male walrus belonging to a wild population.  Marineland denied that Zeus was in poor health.

The city of Niagara Falls and their perceived bias towards Marineland was again under scrutiny after the city's cash strapped transit department pulled the plug on some anti-captivity bus advertising.   The ads were placed on city buses by the Texas based ocean advocacy group Fins and Fluke and paid for through a crowd funding campaign. Even though the ads did not mention Marineland by name the anti-captivity message was deemed 'too controversial' by city officials and the contract to run the ads for several weeks throughout the summer was cancelled.   


Approximately 200 demonstrators returned to protest Marineland's animal captivity program during the Labour Day weekend.  This marked a return to the former tradition of past Labour Day demonstrations. Throughout the protest several families could be seen leaving the park, deciding not to go in after speaking with protesters.  A return to a full schedule of demonstrations is planned for 2017.


Making huge international news, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) laid 5 counts of animal cruelty charges against Marineland.  The charges stemmed from a complaint and investigation by Last Chance for Animals which had filed it on behalf of a former employee at Marineland.  LCA's investigation would bring to light even more disgusting images of animal care at Marineland.    Marineland is scheduled to appear in court in January of 2017.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

BREAKING: Images released from investigation into Marineland

Horrible images of what suffering animals, filthy living conditions and dirty food at Marineland has been released by Last Chance for Animals, a California based animal advocacy group.   The undercover video and images were taken by a former employee at Marineland who was assisted by LCA in bringing forth a complaint to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Charges have now been laid against Marineland with more pending, according to the OSPCA.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Marineland Canada Charged With 5 Counts of Animal Cruelty

Bombshell news made headlines around the world Friday as Marineland in Niagara Falls Canada was formally charged by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) with 5 counts of animal cruelty with more charges pending:

The charges are as follows:
  • One count for permitting a peacock bird to be in distress.
  • One count for failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for a Peacock bird.
  • Two counts for failing to comply with the prescribed Standards of Care for Guinea Hens.
  • One count for failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care including failing to provide adequate and appropriate food and water for approximately 35, American Black Bears.
Further charges are pending at this time.
On November 10, 2016, the Ontario SPCA responded to concerns brought forth regarding some of the animals living at Marineland. Ontario SPCA Officers and a Veterinarian were in attendance to investigate the concern and examine the animals involved.
No animals were removed.
The Ontario SPCA has the authority to remove an animal if/when the following situations have occurred:
  1. An animal is in immediate distress. In this situation our officers did not find the animals to be in immediate distress, as defined by the Ontario SPCA Act.
  2. A veterinarian has recommended the removal of the animal to ensure the animal gets the care it requires.
  3. Ontario SPCA Act Orders have been issued but were not complied with.
 Many have been calling for charges against the park for years and it seems there has been some vindication for advocates now that Marineland will face criminal charges.   Advocate Mike Garrett, currently being sued by Marineland for $1.5 million dollars released this statement:

 "The very business model Marineland operates under is the exploitation and abuse of animals.  However they have always claimed (falsely) to be 'the most inspected facility of it's kind anywhere' and that 'they treat their animals like family'.   Well if this was the case and they knew they were under the microscope and still were found to be neglecting animals as what has happened here it just shows that Marineland does not take animal care seriously nor do they respect those who enforce animal care laws.  This facility should have all their animals removed as soon as possible."

This could not have been a worse week for Marineland to make the news along with their industry partner Vancouver Aquarium, which saw 2 of their only captive Beluga whales within days of each other.  Currently there is a bill making its way through the Canadian Senate which aims to phase out the captivity of cetaceans in Canada.  The bill has passed second reading and is now currently being studied in committee. Marineland is currently closed for the season, a full schedule of demonstrations at the facility is planned for if they re-open.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Demonstrators Flood Marineland


The 2016 Labour Day demonstration at Marineland was a huge success seeing approximately 200 people attend the end of summer protest.  Attendees held signs eliciting supportive honks from passing motorists and pleaded with families not to support animal captivity by entering the facility.  Throughout the day several groups could be seen changing their minds and leaving without entering.

Further coverage of the demonstration can be found in Metroland Media's Niagara This Week, a regional newspaper:


While this is the final demonstration of 2016, a full slate of demonstrations is already being planned for 2017 should Marineland re-open for another season.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Marineland Under Fire Over Appearance of Walrus

Disturbing images have emerged of a 13 year old walrus at Marineland named Zeus.

A video which was taken recently and posted online shows what appears to be the walrus emaciated and near collapse as he is dragged out onto the stage to perform for tourists. The walrus lumbers around, bowing his head before finally flopping to the stage floor.

Compared to a walrus in the wild, Zeus looks quite different. Former Marineland walrus trainer turned whistleblower described Zeus' appearance to the online animal publication, The Dodo:

"He's grossly emaciated. You can see his hip bones, his spine. His skin is falling off his bones. His air sack is protruding. There's virtually no belly."

Marineland issued a statement which claimed Zeus is under constant veterinarian care and is completely healthy. Their statement largely blamed activists for misleading the public:

"As you have probably seen from many of the tabloid magazines, you see in grocery store lineups, anyone can take an unflattering photo of someone to make them look unwell or unhappy."

Ontario Captive Animal Watch, a zoo watchdog group based in Ontario is calling on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to intervene and have an independent pinniped expert outside of Marineland's influence or payroll examine Zeus.

OCAW is asking the public to join their pressure campaign on the Premier and those interested can find more information here: https://www.facebook.com/events/951252254998117/

Saturday, July 23, 2016

DEMONSTRATION Calendar: Sept 5th 2016

The next demonstration at Marineland has been announced and is set for Labour Day Monday September 5th 2016 at 11am.

The official event page can be found here:

Over the summer many images have surfaced online showing Marineland's parking lot at low capacity, even on what has been traditionally busy summer weekends in the past.  The public's changing distaste for captive animal facilities like Marineland is evident. Demonstrators plan to continue the pressure until the animal program at Marineland comes to an end.