By Nick Westoll – Global News
Investigators with the Ontario SPCA (OSPCA) have charged Marineland with five counts of animal cruelty involving several bears, Guinea hens and a peacock.
According to a statement from the OSPCA on Friday, officials responded to concerns about animals at the Niagara Falls, Ont., facility on Nov. 10.
The OSPCA said Marineland has been charged with the following alleged offences:
- One count for permitting a peacock to be in distress
- One count for failing to comply with prescribed care standards for a peacock
- Two counts for failing to comply with prescribed care standards for Guinea hens
- One count for failing to comply with prescribed care standards, including failure to provide appropriate food and water, for approximately 35 American Black bears.
The statement said none of the animals have been removed, but the OSPCA said it is monitoring the care of the animals. The investigation is still ongoing and OSPCA spokeswoman Alison Cross said further charges are pending.
“If convicted, they could face a $60,000 fine, a lifetime ban in owning animals and up to two years in jail,” she said.
— OSPCA (Ontario SPCA) (@OntarioSPCA) November 25, 2016
Marineland first opened in 1963 when owner John Holer started shows with a few sea lions in a small pool in Niagara Falls.
It has since grown into a massive amusement park with one killer whale, dozens of beluga whales, dolphins, walruses and land animals such as deer, bears, birds and fish.
Phil Demers, a former trainer at Marineland who raised allegations of animal abuse at the facility in 2012, told Global News Friday that he welcomed the announcement.
“The story is the fact that the OSPCA did something about it, or appears to be doing something,” he said.
“I don’t like to hear that animals are being neglected of course, but we’re getting some validation here.”
Demers said he’s not sure what long-term impact this news might have on the facility, but he said he ultimately wants to see the phasing out of animal captivity at Marineland.
“I can appreciate that they would finally start considering that the time when people would support these kinds of practices is long gone,” he said.
The charges announced Friday have not been proven in court.
Global News has requested comment from Marineland about the charges, but hasn’t received a response as of Friday afternoon.
With files from The Canadian Press