Thursday, August 27, 2015

URGENT CALL FOR ACTION: Your Voice Is Needed!


Want to help change things for whales, dolphins, walruses, sea lions and seals in Ontario?

Comments are needed on the proposed 'Standard of care for marine mammals in captivity' and the DEADLINE for public comment is September 14th 2015.  While these comments do not speak to the direct overall unethical issue of captivity, it is CRUCIAL that for the animals currently forced to endure it their lives be made better.

On May 28, 2015, the Ontario Legislature passed Bill 80, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) Amendment Act, that:

• prohibits the breeding and possession of orcas (except Marineland’s lone orca Kiska) in Ontario.

• Expanded the existing regulation-making authority under the OSPCA Act to allow the Minister to establish additional administrative requirements related to management, oversight practices, professional services, and collecting and disclosing information, intended to ensure the appropriate care of an animal.

The Government of Ontario consultation notice can be found at:
http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=19262&language=en


The proposed Standards of Care and Administrative Standards for marine mammals can be found at:
http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/showAttachment.do?postingId=19262&attachmentId=28891


To provide comments online SCROLL TO BOTTOM OF PAGE HERE TO WHERE IT SAYS COMMENT ON THIS PROPOSAL VIA EMAIL: 
http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=19262&language=en

You can also provide comments directly to Yasir Naqvi the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services at ynaqvi.mpp@liberal.ola.org 

You can provide your own comments or use some of the following points:

Subject Line: COMMENTS ON PROPOSED MARINE MAMMAL REGULATIONS

While there are some positive aspects to the proposed standards, there are numerous deficiencies and weaknesses that undermine their effectiveness and that will make them difficult to enforce. Unless these are addressed, the standards may allow business as usual in Ontario’s marine parks and aquariums.

SOME KEY DEFICIENCIES IN PROPOSED

MARINE MAMMALS IN CAPTIVITY STANDARDS

1. No requirement for veterinarian with marine mammal experience and expertise.  I ask that a vet with marine mammal experience be REQUIRED.

2. No minimum time requirement for enrichment activities/programs to keep animals occupied.  I ask that an extensive enrichment program be implemented immediately.

3. No requirement for social animals to be given companionship, so Kiska may be left in social isolation. Belugas or dolphins should be introduced to her as soon as possible.

4. No requirement for privacy/refuge areas for animals, particularly important when many animals housed together and may be subject to aggression (bullying).  I ask that this be a requirement of animal enclosures and include mandatory shaded areas from the sun for all marine mammals.

5. No requirement for seals, sea lions or walruses (pinnipeds) to be kept outdoors, even on a partial basis, so they have opportunities to experience natural sunlight and conditions such as fresh air.  I ask that this also be made mandatory.

6. No public disclosure of animal information or records, so no public accountability.  I ask that it be mandatory all records of imports, exports, births and deaths be publicly available.


You can expand on these comments if you wish, making them as brief or as long as you like.


PLEASE SEND IN YOUR COMMENTS BY SEPTEMBER 14, 2015.

To provide comments online SCROLL TO BOTTOM OF PAGE HERE TO WHERE IT SAYS COMMENT ON THIS PROPOSAL VIA EMAIL: 
http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=19262&language=en

Thursday, August 13, 2015

It's A Small World After All - For Kiska

Marineland claims lone orca Kiska lives in the 'largest pool housing a killer whale in the world' however just how large is Friendship Cove?

Marineland's statements about the tank size are completely arbitrary and they won't publicly release the actual dimensions of the three pod enclosure providing no facts to back up their statement.

Currently Kiska is only able to use two of the pod tanks as the third is being used to hold Belugas whales.  There is no shade structure at all providing Kiska with no relief from the hot summer sun.

In comparison to the Niagara River, which is a relatively small river nearby - Kiska's tank is minuscule. The Niagara River would be nothing compared to the vast open ocean Kiska would swim in the wild.

At Marineland there is more space dedicated to parking than there is space in ALL of the land and sea animal enclosures COMBINED.



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Demonstration Calendar: Sunday October 11th 2015


The next and final demonstration against animal captivity at Marineland will be Sunday October 11th 2015.  The official event page is located here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/727830213993069/

The protest is planned rain or shine and as always, billed as a family friendly demonstration however organizers ask that you please leave any companion animals at home.

The Call to Free Kiska

PHOTO BY MIKE SANSANO
Young and old, singles and families, lined up once again to demonstrate against Marineland on Saturday for the second annual Free Kiska protest held outside the captive animal facility in Niagara Falls.  The focus of the demonstration was to speak out for Kiska, the last remaining killer whale held captive in Canada who has been at Marineland for decades and now lives in isolation.

Ontario recently passed a law banning the future sales, acquisitions and breeding of orcas in the province but it did not provide any help for Kiska who will likely remain alone at Marineland until she dies.

PHOTO BY MIKE SANSANO
Demonstrators on Saturday called for Kiska to be moved to a retirement sanctuary in the ocean or a more suitable facility where she can be with others of her own kind.  Orcas are extremely social animals, almost more so than humans, they are known to stay with their families for their entire lives.

Folks lined up early with their signs chanting slogans in attempts to persuade people not to enter the facility.  Each time this was successful a round of cheers rose up from protesters.  At one point, two young men visiting on a tour from Mexico named Marco & Jorge changed their minds about entering Marineland.  They picked up some signs and joined the demonstration.

The Ontario government is currently overhauling  the standards of care for all marine mammals in the province and is seeking the public's input:


Coverage of Saturday's demonstration was featured widely across Niagara by the Postmedia Network:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Marineland Attempts to Censor Billboard


Marineland's lawyer is busy once again, sending out legal threats over an anti captivity billboard currently on display in downtown Niagara Falls.  The threats of legal action are in a letter faxed to Outfront Media who owns the billboard and Niagara Action for Animals, an advocate group based in St. Catharines Ontario who paid to place the message.

The billboard which is due to stay up for the month of July features several photos of animals taken by photographer Jo-Anne McArthur during a visit to the facility and used with her permission. The billboard does not mention Marineland by name and features the anti captivity message "They belong in the wild...not a theme park".

Marineland claims because the photos are of animals imprisoned at the park, they own the copyrights and the images are being used with 'malicious intent'. Under 'Terms and Conditions' on its website, the facility states "photographs or videotape taken at Marineland of Canada Inc. may not be used for any commercial purpose."

According to NAFA, Outfront Media has signaled they have no intention of removing the billboard.

The Niagara Falls Review has the full story including comments from both Niagara Action for Animals and Marineland:

http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/2015/07/17/marineland-threatens-action-over-billboard

The full letter threatening action has been obtained by Marineland: In Depth and can be read here.



Sunday, June 28, 2015

Animal Sanctuaries as Alternatives to Marineland

PHOTO BY Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Children are naturally curious and fascinated with animals.  Marineland exploits a child's innocent love for animals through their marketing to kids and parents while providing no educational value or conservation efforts in their endless pursuit of profits.  No money spent at Marineland goes to help any animals in the wild and visiting the facility actually hurts animals by enabling Marineland to capture, import and exploit more of them until they die in captivity.  It is difficult however for parents to resist their child's pleas to take them to a zoo or aquarium.  Parents want their children to experience that special connection to animals and nature.  Taking them to Marineland may be well intentioned but it is a bad form of education and a choice based in no compassion.

There are many alternatives to taking your children to a zoo and aquarium, ones that still allow children to make that connection with animals without the destructive side effects of funneling your money to for profit facilities.  Animal sanctuaries are abundant throughout the world and more specifically in Ontario and Western New York which falls within the radius of a family day trip to Marineland.   Animals sanctuaries, unlike zoos & aquariums are true non profit organizations which almost always rely on donations and help from the public in order to provide much happier homes for saved, abused, neglected, exotic or what would have been otherwise discarded animals.   They put the needs of the animals first rather than the whims of visitors like at Marineland.

While it's true you likely won't see a whale or dolphin at a local sanctuary, there are a wide variety of animals your children can see that have been rescued.   Your visit whether it be through a limited tour or even 'working  visit' (where you can pitch in to help) will be designed to assist animals truly in need.  Your children will come away with a much better educational and personally compassionate experience.  Choosing to support a sanctuary is one of the best things true animal lovers can do and it will help foster a better relationship with animals than your child staring at animals through bars or glass.

Within a few hours drive of Marineland in Niagara Falls you can find the following animal sanctuaries that are very much worth supporting.  There are many more throughout the province of Ontario and State of New York as well. 

Cedar Row Sanctuary is located near London Ontario and has been rescuing animals since 1999.  The sanctuary is home to goats, pigs, donkeys, turkeys,  chickens and ducks.   They welcome volunteer working visits to their sanctuary, where people can help contribute to the much needed farm work to be done, as well as get to visit the animals. 

Ralph's Retreat located in Norfolk County Ontario and is home to an assortment of rescued farm animals and domestic animals including pigs, horses, ponies, dogs, cats and chickens.   It's a small family run sanctuary that specializes in special needs visitors such as children who are autistic.  You can call ahead to arrange a visit and learn what kind of experiences are offered.

The Farm Sanctuary at Watkins Glen New York was established in 1986 and is home to cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese and more.  Visitors can even stay at a lovely Bed & Breakfast on site and learn about farm animal issues.

Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary near Rosseau Ontario rescues and rehabilitates nearly 500 animals a year and is home to bobcats, coyotes, lynx, bears, wolves and deer.  The sanctuary has an extensive educational component on how people can peacefully co exist with these animals often found in rural areas.


The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada located near Guelph Ontario is the largest animal refuge in the country.  They are home to 75 donkeys who can roam free on most of the sprawling 100 acre farm and have found themselves there because of abandonment, abuse or  neglect.  Education and safe interactions are offered to visitors.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Canadian Senator to Introduce Bill Phasing Out Cetacean Captivity in Canada



For Immediate Release
Thursday, June 11, 2015

Senate Liberal to Ban Captivity of Whales and Dolphins

OTTAWA – Senator Wilfred Moore has announced a federal bill to phase out the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity. “Keeping whales and dolphins in captivity is unjustifiably cruel,” said Senator Moore. “We should do the right thing and end the practice in Canada.” Senator Moore, a member of the Senate Liberal Caucus, will table the bill in the Senate this afternoon. He and several stakeholders – including Green Party Leader Elizabeth May – will offer details at a press conference today at 12:15 pm in the National Press Theater in Ottawa.

Senator Moore’s bill has the support of Gabriela Cowperthwaite, director of the CNN-distributed documentary Blackfish, which outlines the suffering of captive orcas. It also has the support of four ex-whale and dolphin trainers; Dr. Marc Bekoff of the Jane Goodall Institute; the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies; the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; and Zoocheck Canada (see below for quotes).

The Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act prohibits captive breeding, imports, exports, and live captures of all whales, dolphins, and porpoises in Canada. The bill allows for the rescue of injured individuals. It builds on a recent Ontario law, which phases out keeping orcas in captivity (currently, there is one captive orca at Marineland in Niagara Falls, and approximately 50 beluga whales and dolphins at that facility and the Vancouver Aquarium).

Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Director of Blackfish

“I made Blackfish because I wanted to understand why a trainer came to be killed by a killer whale. I did not come from animal activism and had even taken my kids to SeaWorld. I simply had a question. I soon learned the heartbreaking story of orcas in captivity. All whales and dolphins suffer in marine parks, and seeing these incredible creatures reduced to performing tricks has no social, educational, or conservational value. It is time for us to evolve. I hope Canadians get behind Senator Moore’s bill and end this practice.”    

This bill also has the support of three ex-SeaWorld trainers who appeared in Blackfish: John Hargrove, Samantha Berg, and Jeff Ventre.

Phil Demers, former Head Trainer at Marineland

As a former Marine Mammal Trainer, I believe the bill to ban cetacean captivity and breeding in Canada is imperative and long-overdue. I have witnessed the physiological and emotional consequences captivity imposes on these magnificent beings, and those who care for them. No living being should be forced to endure what I've witnessed, and it's my hope that this bill will finally put an end to these cruel practices.”

Dr. Marc Bekoff, Ethics Committee for the Jane Goodall Institute

“Science has clearly established that whales and dolphins suffer deep and enduring psychological and physical harms in captivity. The practice is ethically indefensible, and Senator Moore’s proposed ban would be a timely and important change in Canadian law. These highly intelligent, emotional, and social species deserve to live free in the wild, where they belong.”

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

“Canadians do not support the archaic practice of confining and breeding whales and dolphins for the purpose of our entertainment. This bill puts Canada in a leadership position by advancing marine mammal science without exacting a cost to individual animals.”

This bill also has the support of the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Zoocheck Canada

“This Bill will address Canada’s outdated and inconsistent laws regarding the importation and possession of whales and dolphins and will bring Canada into lockstep with other progressive jurisdictions around the world that have moved to address cetacean captivity issues. But, perhaps most importantly, it will finally address the deprivation and suffering that these animals endure in tanks and pools.”

Senator Wilfred Moore

“I hope all parliamentarians and candidates will back this going into the election. Bottom line, whales should not be kept in swimming pools.”

30-
Contact:
Archie Campbell
Office of Senator Wilfred Moore
archie.campbell@sen.parl.gc.ca

613-943-8098