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Marineland under investigation over use of marine mammals for second time in a year


Niagara police say they've launched a investigation into Marineland after a complaint was lodged over the park's use of marine mammals in public appearances.

This marks the third complaint and second investigation the park's faced within the span of a year. In October 2021, two complaints were made to police regarding Marineland's marine mammal performances. Police then launched an investigation and eventually placed one charge of animal cruelty on the park.

The complaints and charges allege Marineland's in violation of section 445.2(4) of Canada’s Criminal Code, the cruelty to animal provisions, which prohibits the use of captive whales and dolphins in shows for entertainment purposes. Investigators, alongisde advocates, allege the park's shows are for entertainment and therefore violate that provision.

Facing one charge of animal cruelty, the park reopened for the season in May.

On Thursday, Niagara Regional Police Services’ (NRPS) confirmed a second investigation has been launched into Marineland.

“In May of 2022 we received a complaint regarding the use of dolphins by Marineland,” spokesperson Cst. Phil Gavin said. “That investigation remains ongoing. As such we have no further information to provide at this time.”

Marineland maintains they're not breaking any laws and that their presentations are “educational” in nature.

The park has not returned a request for comment, but on its website said: “Our marine mammals are empowered to decide on their own whether they want to participate in each presentation, and our plans change based on which animals choose before each show.”

Their website also states presentations involving dolphins, whales and sea lions are intended to be "entertaining, educational and heartwarming."


One of the complaints lodged in November was done so by Miranda Desa, a lawyer representing Last Chance for Animals (LCA), a U.S-based animal advocacy organization.

Desa said a member of LCA entered Marineland on Aug. 3 and 16, 2021 and observed dolphins “performing.”

The organization claims dolphins and belugas were made to perform to the public, displaying behaviours not found naturally in the wild.

Desa says photos and videos were turned over to Niagara Regional Police.

"Last Chance for Animals obtained footage of dolphins doing flips, spinning, as well as having what they called a ‘dolphin dance party,’" she told CTV News Toronto in November.

"[Belugas] were being fed on the side of the pool in front of on-watchers, and the belugas were being asked to perform tricks, things for food. You can see the people working for Marineland giving instructions and rewarding the behaviour with food.” 


On Feb. 14, Marineland made its first appearance in a St. Catharines courtroom to the animal cruelty charge following the 2021 investigation.

The park retained Toronto lawyer Scott Fenton. Despite multiple court appearances since, the crown says it’s still awaiting disclosures.

Marineland's next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 17 in St. Catharines, Ont. Top Stories

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