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"The animals were in hell”
August 16, 2012 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Marineland is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Niagara Falls. It features the world's largest habitat for viewing orcas, houses a world record 41 beluga whales in their exhibits, and offers a variety of daily shows featuring bottlenose dolphins, harbor seals, sea lions and walruses. On Tuesday, the Toronto Star published the results of an extensive investigation, alleging "a pattern of neglect that has repeatedly resulted in animal suffering." Video. Slideshow. Demonstration protests are scheduled for Saturday. Marineland denies mistreatment.
posted by zarq (41 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I guess not everyone loves Marineland.

Forgive me! I've been hearing that stupid jingle since I was about 5 years old; I couldn't resist.
posted by asnider at 12:53 PM on August 16, 2012 [20 favorites]


I don't have to see any evidence to know their practices are cruel - animals that large should not be kept in captivity.
posted by agregoli at 12:55 PM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Commercials.
posted by zarq at 12:58 PM on August 16, 2012


A big problem is that Ontario doesn't really have any laws or regulations governing private zoos. As this editorial notes, if it's not a problem at Marineland, it's a problem at some roadside zoo up in cottage country.
posted by thecjm at 1:01 PM on August 16, 2012


asnider, I just want to give you a Great Big Kiss.

(not really)
posted by sparklemotion at 1:02 PM on August 16, 2012


I've been there exactly twice in my life, once on a kindergarden school trip, and once on a company picnic ten years ago, and I'm not exactly shocked by these revelations. I doubt that many former visitors are. But dammit, that jingle has a lot of power over kids...
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:13 PM on August 16, 2012


I had to stop reading partway through. This is a heart-breaking and nauseating situation. Those animals need to be confiscated and turned over to people who know how too properly rehabilitate and care for them.
posted by MissySedai at 1:14 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Proving yet again how much crueler than deliberate cruelty neglect and wilful blindness can be.

Personally I feel a sick frustration that I can't think of what to do that will help these animals. I fear they are currently in hell, too.
posted by bearwife at 1:15 PM on August 16, 2012


Tough year for Toronto animal attractions, consider the Zoo elephants as well.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:19 PM on August 16, 2012


Imagine if the Marineland staff went to a far flung part of the planet, found a social grouping of the great apes called humans, captured one of the young daughters, removed her from her family, then brought her back and trained her to do tricks for audiences, and let customers pay extra money to touch her.
posted by fairmettle at 1:19 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


My faith in humanity dipped a bit when a girl who worked in administration at Marineland told me of several people actually phoning to complain when the commercial's jingle was changed.
posted by davebush at 1:31 PM on August 16, 2012


Those animals need to be confiscated and turned over to people who know how too properly rehabilitate and care for them.

They can be 22 feet long and weigh 3,500 pounds. Who are you imagining is in a position to care for 40 of them?

This is a giant and completely predictable mess.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:36 PM on August 16, 2012


Sickening.
posted by Wordwoman at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2012


Imagine if the Marineland staff went to a far flung part of the planet, found a social grouping of the great apes called humans, captured one of the young daughters, removed her from her family, then brought her back and trained her to do tricks for audiences, and let customers pay extra money to touch her.

The Aristocrats?
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


DarlingBri: " They can be 22 feet long and weigh 3,500 pounds. Who are you imagining is in a position to care for 40 of them?"

Other aquariums? Preferably ones that aren't abusive to animals. They don't all need to go to one facility, after all.
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on August 16, 2012


Me, who had never heard of this place, during the reading of this fpp: a short play in two acts.

Act 1 - smile, getting bigger all the time. 41 belugas? This sounds awesome! Gas up the car, we're going to Niagara Falls!

Act 2 - instant, soulcrushing sad.
posted by zjacreman at 1:41 PM on August 16, 2012


Cue the Rammstein version of "EVERYBODY LOVES MARINELAND".
posted by clvrmnky at 1:44 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm glad to realize you're not talking about the Marineland in NE Florida.
posted by saladin at 1:47 PM on August 16, 2012


Cue the Rammstein version of "EVERYBODY LOVES MARINELAND".


In Niagara Falls Ontario
There's a place where the sea lions' eyes are holes
Where the water won't flow and it's leaking ozone
Everyone loves Marineland

[interstitial shot of dolphin bumping into mouldy wall]

Our belugas mutilate babies
Our walrus is puking and has PTSD
Hear the orcas scream at the stench of chlorine
Everyone loves..... Marineland!
posted by randomination at 1:49 PM on August 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've been hearing that stupid jingle since I was about 5 years old

The one I remember was just "Marineland and Game Farrrrrm!"
posted by pracowity at 1:50 PM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Lawyers are advising them to change the jingle to "Some people like Marineland!"
posted by jprind at 1:51 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Imagine if the Marineland staff went to a far flung part of the planet, found a social grouping of the great apes called humans, captured one of the young daughters, removed her from her family, then brought her back and trained her to do tricks for audiences, and let customers pay extra money to touch her.

Eh, we only stopped doing that like 80 years ago.
posted by Diablevert at 1:51 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Other aquariums? Preferably ones that aren't abusive to animals. They don't all need to go to one facility, after all.

No, of course not, but it is a major and sometimes insurmountable undertaking to rehouse 41 apes in suitable, safe and non-abusive accommodations with space, budget and qualified staff. It is exponentially more complicated to rehouse 41 different whales. It's not like you can just FedEx them to Sea World.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:01 PM on August 16, 2012


Eh, we only stopped doing that like 80 years ago.

It's still going on.

We have a Marineland in Antibes (different company), was also relieved to see it wasn't that one. That said, it was only a small relief – I've seen orcas in the wild, in the San Juan Islands, and I've only been able to visit the Antibes Marineland once. I nearly panicked when one of the orcas jumped (as part of a normal show). It looked so huge compared to its pool. Even though they're comparatively well cared for, it's heartbreaking. Just nothing compared to their freedom and joy in the wild.
posted by fraula at 2:02 PM on August 16, 2012


A large component of adulthood seems to be learning that individuals and institutions you loved and admired as a child are corrupt, immoral, greedy and/or downright evil.
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 2:12 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


DarlingBri: "It's not like you can just FedEx them to Sea World."

*cue video of FedEx guy staring at 41 Beluga whales lined up at the curb, covered in hundreds of Pak envelopes.

FedEx Guy: "I quit."*


No, I understand the logistical issues. And health and survival issues. I'm just saying that an option does exist, even if it's not necessarily an easy one.
posted by zarq at 2:19 PM on August 16, 2012


A big problem is that Ontario doesn't really have any laws or regulations governing private zoos.

Yes. This.

There are essentially no regulations regarding exotic animals. As a consequence, we have a lot of very iffy "zoos" in Ontario--lots of tigers in rickety chainlink enclosures and other ridiculous bullshit. It's an appalling problem that desperately needs to be addressed.

(On the subject of jingles, though: African Lion Safaaariiiiii! At least the people who go there get their windshield wipers ripped off by baboons; people who go to Marineland just get splashed with diluted whale piss.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:26 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Update - the NF Humane Society is dropping by.
posted by davebush at 2:34 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


FREE ALL THE WILLIES!


wait...
posted by ShutterBun at 2:41 PM on August 16, 2012


Imagine if the Marineland staff went to a far flung part of the planet, found a social grouping of the great apes called humans, captured one of the young daughters, removed her from her family, then brought her back and trained her to do tricks for audiences, and let customers pay extra money to touch her.

It would be hailed as a paradise of the Free Market?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:50 PM on August 16, 2012


The singer of the updated Everyone Loves Marineland jingle no longer wants to be associated with Marineland.
posted by thecjm at 2:55 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It would be hailed as a paradise of the Free Market?

Whenever you hear idiots talking about how the free market will regulate itself via the invisible hand job, gp is right: you just need to point to despicable shit like this.
posted by maxwelton at 2:56 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can order seal in certain Montreal restaurants.
posted by spitbull at 3:58 PM on August 16, 2012


Detailed report about Marineland from 2002 from zoocheck (pdf)

I lived in the area for several years and Marineland is very well known to people active in the cause of humane treatment for animals. I would really like to see this be the thing that finally brings about a real improvement. But Marineland makes a lot of money for Niagara Falls and for some reason once the dust settles things never seem to change.
posted by AV at 4:42 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not like you can just FedEx them to Sea World.

What? Sure you can. You can also use UPS. Shop around.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:44 PM on August 16, 2012


Other aquariums? Preferably ones that aren't abusive to animals. They don't all need to go to one facility, after all.

No, of course not, but it is a major and sometimes insurmountable undertaking to rehouse 41 apes in suitable, safe and non-abusive accommodations with space, budget and qualified staff. It is exponentially more complicated to rehouse 41 different whales. It's not like you can just FedEx them to Sea World.


That's as may be, but with dozens of AZA accredited aquariums worldwide that are rather devoted to marine education and conservation, it's not unrealistic to think that some of these organizations will be willing to step up and take these animals out of harm's way. "Major undertaking" and "completely impossible" are different things entirely.
posted by MissySedai at 7:05 PM on August 16, 2012


I believe I said it was complicated, not that it was impossible. My reaction was to your assertion that they need to be "turned over" like there is some sort of ASPCA or SPCA for marine mamels just standing by.

There is not. So it's complicated.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:23 PM on August 16, 2012


The singer of the updated Everyone Loves Marineland jingle no longer wants to be associated with Marineland.


That's ok- I think Marineland is going to straight-up change its jingle to the killer whale tank.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:56 PM on August 16, 2012


If the animals can't be moved anywhere or released into the wild, the management team has to be replaced with a team of people who will make sure the animals are cared for the best they can in the circumstances.
posted by pracowity at 10:56 PM on August 16, 2012


What would happen to these whales if you released them somewhere in the upper Great Lakes? Would they all just end up dying at the bottom of Niagara Falls? Or would it be a livable environment for them?

(Yes, I know it's a very bad idea to introduce animals into new environments. I'm just supposing. Out of curiosity. And because I saw a hoax story about whale watching on Lake Michigan.)
posted by pracowity at 6:46 AM on August 17, 2012


pracowity: "What would happen to these whales if you released them somewhere in the upper Great Lakes? Would they all just end up dying at the bottom of Niagara Falls? Or would it be a livable environment for them?"

I did a quick google search and came up with this page. Looks like the Lower Great Lakes would be liveable, but perhaps not ideal due to pollution, natural predators and carcinogens. I'm not sure if the Upper Great Lakes would have the same issues?

I guess we'd also have to take into consideration whether any of the whales born into captivity may have been domesticated to some degree. Do we know if they would be able to fend for themselves in the wild?
posted by zarq at 7:22 AM on August 17, 2012


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