(Niagara Falls) The Marineland theme park has been accused of using dolphins and whales for recreation, which the company, based in Niagara Falls in southern Ontario, denies.
According to the Niagara Regional Police Force, an investigation began in October into the cetaceans’ involvement in shows organized for visitors.
“During the investigation, it was determined that dolphins and whales were used for recreational purposes during the month of August, without prior permission to do so,” a police press release said.
If these allegations are proven, this is a violation of the Whale and Dolphin End Act, which was passed by the federal government in 2019. This makes dolphin or whale shows illegal.
Police said Marineland has been charged with using cetaceans in a show without permission.
Marineland denies these allegations and maintains that dolphins and whales are participating in an educational show designed by experts.
In a statement, the company said its animal presentations contain parts where “marine mammals are called to demonstrate behaviors observed in ocean environments.”
The displays, accompanied by educational explanations, are intended to allow visitors to better understand these marine species, according to Marineland.
The park blames “ideologically motivated activists” who allegedly filed a police complaint.
The California-based organization Last Chance for Animals admitted that it filed a complaint at the end of September and that an investigator appointed by the organization testified to police in late October.
“We’re thrilled,” said Canadian chancellor Miranda Desa, who works with a California nonprofit.
She stated that the investigator hired by the organization visited Marineland on August 3 and 9 and photographed shows of dolphins and whales.
MI Dolphins can be seen “doing somersaults, rolling, dancing and performing many feats to the sound of music in front of a visiting audience,” says Desa.
The Canadian Press was able to see a portion of the footage, which appears to have seen dolphins perform various movements in front of the audience and are rewarded by the staff who serve them food.
Marineland says it plans to appeal the indictment.
The theme parks department is eager to wait. “Marinland understands why ideologically motivated activists have filed a police complaint and acknowledges that the Niagara Regional Police has faced pressure to make such accusations.”
Marineland is scheduled to appear in court on February 14, 2022.
Until then, the company says it will remain dedicated to its mission of research, education, and conservation. She wants to continue to provide high quality care for her animals.
Marineland also confirmed Monday that it had received an application from Project Whale Sanctuary, a whale sanctuary to be established in Nova Scotia. This organization would like to welcome the Kiska whale, the only killer whale found in Marineland, as well as the many beluga whales there.
The park claims it has no ideological objection to moving whales to sanctuaries or any other facility that meets the standards of care set forth in law.
But according to Marineland’s notes, the shelter “has no funding, no facility, no field staff and offers to operate in a toxic environment.”
For these reasons, the park says it has no plans to send the whales there unless major changes are made.
Campus project general manager Charles Finnick noted that discussions with Marineland were only preliminary and that the organization was still in the development and design phase for its future facilities.
In recent years, an unspecified number of whales have died in the Marineland basins. The Ontario Department of Animal Protection has been investigating the park’s facilities for several months.
Last May, government inspectors said in a court document that all marine mammals in Marineland were in distress due to poor water quality.
According to documents obtained by the Canadian Press, Marineland inspectors have twice ordered the water treatment system to be repaired at various ponds.
Marineland defied these orders, denying that his animals were in distress, and arguing that the deaths of an unspecified number of whales had nothing to do with the quality of the water.
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