Deer are shot and left to die, baby bears left for nature to “take its course.” The horror stories from Marineland at Niagara Falls keep tumbling out.
It was bad enough when we learned that beluga whales, sea lions and other marine mammals were getting sick and dying from the polluted water, negligence and abuse. Now the Toronto Star, which has led the exposé and prompted a government investigation, has new revelations – this time about the land animals.
In its latest article, the Star writes about “casual brutality when animals need to be put down.” Jim Hammond, who resigned as supervisor of land animal care last year, speaks out about what was for him the final straw. One of the deer had a leg so badly broken that Hammond, a former dairy farmer with a diploma in agriculture management, decided she would need to be euthanized. So he asked his boss, Marineland owner John Holer, to bring in a veterinarian. What happened next, Hammond says, is something he’ll never forget:
Hammond, an 11-year veteran at the sprawling facility, begged owner John Holer to bring in a vet to euthanize the animal. He says Holer refused, instead taking out his 12-gauge shotgun, shooting the deer and then driving off. But the wounded animal didn’t die.
“He was twitching quite a bit and his head would flop up and down,” Hammond recalled. The deer had been shot through the windpipe and was gasping for air.
He called Holer at home to say the deer was still alive and asked if he could call the vet to “do it right” or would Holer come back. According to Hammond, Holer refused, telling him: “I just got back to the house and got sitting down . . . You’ve got a knife in the back of the wagon.”
There’s much more in the Star’s latest report:
- Fifteen black bears held in a cramped enclosure surrounded by a moat with filthy water. Next to it is a booth selling sugar pops for the tourists to throw to the bears.
- Newborn bear cubs with no place for their mothers to protect them from aggressive males. Hammond says Holer told him to “let nature take its course.”
- Dozens of deer, some of them limping and some with grotesque growths and wounds. Hammond says the tumors are the result of inbreeding.
And the list goes on.
Meanwhile, the Ontario SPCA (a government organization) and the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums continue their own much belated investigation – finally shamed into action by the revelations in the Toronto Star. We all await their report. But there can only be one satisfactory conclusion: Shut this death camp down.