As a crowd of 500 protesters gathered outside of Marineland at Niagara Falls on Sunday afternoon, 100 of them broke from the main demonstration and charged into the zoo itself shouting “Shut it down, Shut it down!”
It was the last day before the operation shuts down for the winter. But more and more people think it’s time for Marineland to shut down for good after so many revelations this year, primarily from the Toronto Star, about the shoddy, cruel and neglectful treatment of the animals. (The latest is here.)
The results of two separate investigations were published last week, and the conclusions are contradictory. But that’s no surprise.
The Ontario SPCA, a government sponsored body, found “some areas of concern where certain deficiencies exist.” That’s about as strong as you can expect from the OSPCA. And their investigators never even saw the sick and injured animals. That’s because animals who are found to be under the care of a veterinarian are exempt from the OSPCA’s investigation.
The other investigation was by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), which is the trade association of the zoo industry and is funded by the zoos themselves.
CAZA, which is funded by its membership of accredited animal parks, sent three inspectors to the park in August and inspected only the marine mammals, on the basis that it was the marine mammals who were the focus of an initial complaint by former trainer Phil Demers about bad treatment. CAZA’s conclusion:
“At the time of the site inspection, the animals in question in the Marineland collection, including the marine mammals, were in overall good health and there was no evidence of animal abuse, that water quality in all the pools was very good, and it appeared that staffing levels were adequate,” CAZA national director Bill Peters wrote.
And while staff members had complained that the quality of the water was so bad that they themselves couldn’t go in it, even for brief periods, for fear of breaking out in skin complaints, CAZA found nothing the matter with the water. That’s no surprise, either: Marineland had finally been shamed into changing all the water in the pools before the inspectors arrived.
And so it goes. If anything is really going to change there, it will be as a result of such heavy pressure from growing numbers of people that this hellhole-for-animals will no longer be profitable to its owner, Jim Holer.