Sunday, April 19, 2015

Marineland Animal Defense Ends Campaign Against Marineland

Marineland Animal Defense has decided to shut down their campaign of advocating for the end of animal captivity at Marineland. The small group of approximately 10 core individuals headed by 'co-founder' Dylan Powell has been around since 2011 and organized various demonstrations at the park and at park owner John Holer's personal residence. The group and more specifically Powell was hit with a $1.5 million dollar SLAPP lawsuit in 2012. M.A.D. has been the subject of many controversies since becoming one of the more vocal groups opposing Marineland in recent years.

The group, largely based in social media circles, posted various reasons for ending the campaign on their website including the following:

"we have reached a position where any further Provincial change is unlikely and where Federal change, like the full closure of the wild capture loophole, is currently off the table."

M.A.D. has cancelled a planned march through the city of Niagara Falls scheduled for next month and plans to close its various social media profiles.

Marineland activist Mike Garrett who himself is facing a $1.5 million dollar SLAPP lawsuit by Marineland commented on the end of M.A.D.'s campaign:

"While I have always fully supported Marineland Animal Defense's goals of ending animal captivity at Marineland we have vehemently disagreed on the strategies that should be used to see that those goals come to fruition. With the death of Marineland Animal Defense the time for infighting and division between activists is over. I have been guilty of it myself and wish to move past it. It only benefits Marineland and does nothing to further our cause. We are winning...things are changing. It's time to push forward, we are so close."

A demonstration without M.A.D.'s participation is planned for Marineland's Opening Day on May 16th.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo Speaks Supporting Bill 80

Ontario MPP for Parkdale-High Park Cheri DiNovo has been one of the strongest political voices speaking on behalf of Marineland's animals and whistleblowers since 2012.  Here she is speaking again during recent debate on Bill 80 which is making its way through the Ontario legislature and if passed into law will effectively ban the acquisition and sale of orcas in the province.  The bill will also have provisions to heavily increase scrutiny over animal care at facilities like Marineland and hopefully improve their living conditions.  Still, Cheri makes it a point to speak about the last remaining orca at Marineland, Kiska and how she will not really benefit from being grandfathered into any new legislation.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Marineland 2015 Opening Day Demonstration Announced

The annual opening day demonstration at Marineland is set for May 16th 2015.  The family friendly event will begin out front of the facility at 11am.  Save the date and come out to support the end of marine mammal captivity at this infamous facility and #LetsMakeMarinelandHistory

The Facebook event page will feature up to date information about the demo so be sure to add yourself as an attendee to keep up with all the latest information and updates!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Orca Captivity to End in Ontario

The Ontario government announced on Tuesday a slew of upcoming regulations governing the care of marine mammals in the province including an outright ban on the sale and acquisition of orcas, effectively ending killer whale captivity at facilities such as Marineland.

The regulations will be based on a report drafted by Dr. David Rosen a marine mammal expert who was commissioned by the province's Minister of Community Safety looking to update Ontario's standards of care for marine mammals. The report contains recommendations on a wide variety of animal care issues including habitats, water quality, vet care, environments, public interactions, acceptable noise levels and other 'stressers' that captive marine mammals endure.

The Rosen report recommends creating an animal welfare committee at each facility, reporting to the administrator but operating independently. Responsibilities would include:

 Keeping an up-to-date provincial inventory of all animals that includes lineage, acquisitions, births and deaths, with causes when known.

 A written veterinary care program developed in collaboration with veterinary experts and including a protocol for preventative medicine.

 Ensuring the water supply is reliable and that chlorine levels and bacterial counts meet provincial standards, which will be detailed in a new marine mammal section in the OSPCA Act.

 Enforcement of proper noise restrictions and appropriate light levels.

 Regulations on the handling and display of marine mammals and provisions for social and environmental enrichment.

 Ensuring that “concerns over animal care raised by staff are addressed and properly recorded. This can be facilitated by a written and posted ‘whistle-blower’ policy.”

The government will be setting up an advisory committee featuring various stakeholders and has indicated they would like to see the new rules in place within 6 months.

Activist Mike Garrett applauded the new protections for marine mammals but considers it a first step.

"While this is certainly a historic first step in bringing in better care for marine mammals in this province I think there is more work to be done to effectively end marine mammal captivity here. It has been proven the majority of these animals do not do well in captivity and i'd like to see a complete ban on the sale and acquisition of all cetaceans, not just orcas."

In a statement issued late Tuesday Marineland questioned the orca ban.

“The acquisition of killer whales is governed by international treaties and legislation entered into by the federal government with which Marineland has always complied,” the company said.

Currently the import/export of wild caught cetaceans into Canada is regulated under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Under the conditions, Canada does currently not require an import permit to bring wild caught cetaceans into the country.

Marineland is closed for the season.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Meet June Mergl

Meet June Mergl,  Marineland's head veterinarian.  She's about to become a lot more famous in 2015.  Stay tuned...

Friday, December 5, 2014

2014 Year in Review

In 2014 Marineland continued to tread water. Gone were the high priced gun for hire public relations people that were temporarily the spokespeople for the park in 2013. The facility abandoned their attempts to rehabilitate their public image and continued to launch lawsuits against anyone who offered a negative opinion about Marineland or the care of its animals. For many observers, attendance seemed to be at an all time low and promises made the previous year of new multi-million dollar attractions and investment went once again unfulfilled. Despite launching two new lawsuits towards the end of the year virtually no progress was made in existing litigation.


A provincial byelection was held in Niagara Falls and pro Marineland Liberal candidate Joyce Morocco was defeated. Months later financial disclosures from all candidates revealed that Morocco received campaign contributions from Marineland as well as the winner of the byelection NDP candidate Wayne Gates.


Marineland was investigated by the Ontario Ministry of Environment regarding discoloured water originating from their property that was being expelled into the Welland River via Pell's Creek. It was determined the discoloration was due to sediments disturbed by construction on the property. Fourteen years prior, Marineland had been investigated and ordered to stop expelling wastewater into the very same creek.

Mountain View Elementary School in Hamilton Ontario cancelled a planned Spring field trip to Marineland after receiving complaints from mom Jennifer Jamieson. After hearing about her 9 year old son's class trip to the captive animal facility she immediate petitioned the school to make a more compassionate and educational choice for their field trip.


It was revealed the town of Pelham Ontario was sending children to Marineland via their summer camp program. In local media, activist Mike Garrett called on town mayor Dave Augustine to speak out against the practice but the mayor refused.  Augustine was re-elected in the October Municipal elections.


Marineland's 53rd season was met with the traditional opening day demonstration. This year's demonstration theme was #SaveSmooshi in reference to the continued captivity of female Pacific walrus Smooshi. The demo also featured a march by some through the city of Niagara Falls to the facility where the demo converged with approximately 500 people.


Activist Mike Garrett and others began a new season of leafleting in the busy tourist districts of Niagara Falls. They engaged the public in conversation about Marineland and distributed thousands of leaflets containing information about the facility until the end of Marineland's season in October.

A peaceful and family friendly #FreeKiska demonstration was held outside Marineland. Activists called on the park to free the female orca who swims alone at the facility with no other animal of her own kind to socialize with.  Kiska is Canada's last remaining captive killer whale.

Facing Marineland in court attempting to have a temporary injunction thrown out against him, activist Mike Garrett was ordered to pay Marineland $10,000 in costs after he was unsuccessful in getting the injunction tossed. Garrett was successful in defending Marineland's attempt to further restrict the activist's tactics and he also prevented the injunction from being applied to other demonstrators and expanded in scope.


Noticeably scarce crowds, broken facilities and scathing online reviews prompted local media to visit Marineland and explore why the park seemed to be virtually empty. Entitled "A Morning at Marineland" and written by John Law the piece gave an honest opinion about the condition of the facility from a paying customer's point of view and it wasn't pretty.

Photos surfaced showing female orca Kiska in what some allege appeared to be declining health. Several media outlets showed the photos and featured the opinions of experts commenting on what appeared to be weight loss and teeth damage. Marineland would later launch a lawsuit against one of the media outlets who covered the story, online news site Digital Journal and writer Elizabeth Batt.


Ceta-Base, an online captive marine mammal database reported that as of September 2014 five Beluga calves had been born at the facility this year while three had died.


Internationally known and highly influential Electronic Dance Music artist Deadmau5 posted a lengthy profanity laced message on his own website calling for Marineland to finally put an end to it's captive animal program and build more amusement park rides.

A municipal election was held in Niagara Falls with a majority of pro Marineland candidates being returned to city council.


It was revealed Marineland had launched two new defamation lawsuits against online news sites Digital Journal and The Georgia Straight. Each lawsuit sought $600,000 in damages and named the authors of the articles in the suits as well. Shortly after news of the SLAPP suits broke, Digital Journal published a retraction of its story about Kiska.

It was announced there would be a musical comedy about Marineland playing at the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival.