Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ten Years Too Late

Last week Ontario Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur announced there would be standards introduced for the care of marine mammals in captivity.  Currently no such guidelines exist allowing a facility like Marineland to treat their animals however they wish.  Ontario's standards are apparently being drafted by a committee headed by marine biologist David Rosen of the University of British Columbia and are due by June 2014.

This is not the first time government has promised that standards of care would be introduced to protect animals.  Back in 2003 the federal government of Canada sought guidelines for the care of marine mammals in captivity and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans left it to the Canadian Council on Animal Care to develop them.

The Canadian Council on Animal Care is an organization that oversees and sets rules for the so called "ethical" use of animals in science, i.e. animal testing, vivisection, etc...

Well here we are 10 years later and the final report by the CCAC still hasn't been released and if it ever does their standards of marine mammal captivity will be completely voluntary.

In the pictured article from 2003 Marineland owner John Holer is quoted:

"Our animals are breeding. They're happy, they're healthy.  We have extremely good care, we are constantly training staff, we are continuously upgrading facilities."

As it turns out Marineland's orca breeding program became a complete failure. Court documents revealed Marineland employees did not receive the most up to date training.  Testimonials by former staff widely exposed chronic under staffing and facility problems which has led to persistent health problems for the animals.

Since that article was published and in the decade during which the CCAC has been studying the issue, 8 orcas, 16 belugas and countless other animals have died at Marineland.  

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