WATCH ABOVE: Deputy Chief Jennifer Bluhm of the Ontario SPCA announced six new animal cruelty charges against Marineland in Niagara Falls, saying that “land mammals” at the park were found in “distress.”
By Nick Westoll – Global News
The Ontario SPCA (OSPCA) has laid six additional animal cruelty charges against Marineland after launching an investigation in November.
Monday’s announcement by the OSPCA follows five counts of animal cruelty and neglect that were laid against the tourist attraction Nov. 25 in relation to the treatment of peacocks, guinea hens and black bears.
“This investigation has been extensive and as a result of the evidence that has been revealed during the investigation process, today the Ontario SPCA served Marineland with an additional six counts of animal cruelty under the Ontario SPCA Act,” OSPCA Deputy Chief Jennifer Bluhm said during a press conference Monday afternoon.
Marineland has been charged with the following alleged offences:
- One count for permitting an Elk to be in distress
- One count of failing to provide prescribed standards of care for Elk
- One count of permitting Red Deer to be in distress
- One count of failing to provide prescribed standards of care for Red Deer
- One count of permitting Fallow Deer to be in distress
- One count of failing to provide prescribed standards of care for Fallow Deer
WATCH BELOW: Deputy Chief Jennifer Bluhm of the OSPCA said Monday that animals at Marineland were not receiving “adequate care,” which resulted in the park being slapped with six new animal cruelty charges.
The OSPCA started their investigation on Nov. 10 after it “received information from a concerned member of the public” and that the charges laid on Monday stem from that investigation.
Bluhm said none of the animals have been removed from Marineland.
“Animals can be removed only under certain circumstances as authorized by the Ontario SPCA Act,” she said.
“Those circumstances include animals in immediate distress without an owner present, a veterinarian authorizing their removal and an order being issued that’s not complied with. And none of those situations existed in this case.”
WATCH BELOW: The Ontario SPCA confirmed on Monday that Marineland can still remain in operation despite facing a total of 11 animal cruelty charges.
Marineland issued a statement Monday afternoon saying the OSPCA laid the “strangest charges yet” against the company.
“The OSPCA charges fail to identify a specific animal they believe to be in distress or not receiving an appropriate level of care sixty-one days ago at our park, and failed to identify a specific animal in their charges today,” Marineland said in the statement.
“We believe the OSPCA is continuing a publicity campaign at the behest of a band of discredited activists with little relevant expertise or knowledge, in an effort to avoid further embarrassment related to an ongoing investigation into the OSPCA’s perceived failure to protect animals that is being led by the same activists they are now firmly in bed with.”
The OSPCA previously said it couldn’t divulge information about the complainant.
The statement said a Marineland representative asked to listen to the press conference through a phone or online connection in order to hear “the information they were sharing with the media, but had not shared with us.” However, they said the OSPCA told them it wasn’t possible.
The company said it “looks forward” to hearing the OSPCA’s case in court and that Marineland “will hold the OSPCA to the high standards of Ontario’s legal system and require them to defend their charges to the fullest extent possible.”
Meanwhile, concerns have been raised in the past about the OSPCA’s responsiveness to complaints, an issue Bluhm addressed at the press conference.
“I think that the fact that we’ve laid an additional six counts as part of this investigation is a good example of the thoroughness that we’ve put into this investigation,” she said.
“Our investigation is no different than any one of the 16,000 investigations we do every year which is based on evidence and charges laid where appropriate.”
The case is scheduled to be heard at the Niagara Falls Provincial Offences Act court on Jan. 26.
Global News’ Adam Miller contributed to this report.