School Trips

How To Oppose A School Trip

If your child’s school or camp has a trip to Marineland, please use this as a resource to inform yourself and the school board. There are alternative options for school trips that might more closely meet the policies for educational field trips.

Many schools and summer camps in the area have trips to Marineland in Niagara Falls. We, at Marineland Animal Defense, feel it is questionable whether or not these trips meet the guidelines and policies of the school boards for educational school trips. Parents and family members that do not want to send their children on these school trips can use the information provided below to send letters and create petitions requesting that the school and/or camp eliminate Marineland from their list of appropriate excursions for children.


“Established in the 1960s, Marineland seems like a relic from a more distant past, with its sad displays of imprisoned animals. Marineland has been widely criticized by international animal protection groups. For example, in a September 1996 report, the San Francisco-based animal protection group No Compromise described marine mammals at Marineland as being kept in conditions little better than a ‘warehouse;’ a windowless, shallow pool next to the performance tank and noted that animals were kept ‘totally alone, with no stimulation, daylight or companions, and died there;’ No Compromise stated that Marineland is ‘considered by experts to be one of the worst marine mammal theme parks in North America.’ This view was echoed by a posting by William Rossiter to Whales Alive! the journal of the Cetacean Society International, in which he suggested that Marineland ‘may be the worst marine park in Canada, a place to make you cry and then angry enough to act.’” (John Sorenson “Monsters: The Case of Marineland” in Animal Subjects: An Ethical Reader in a Posthuman world; edited by Jodey Castricano, 2008; p. 198)

“Reviewing Marineland’s care of animals, Dr. Naomi Rose (marine mammal scientist and co-ordinator of marine mammal programs for the Humane Society of the United States) found that enclosures for animals did not meet minimum standards for size and noted rust and chipping paint that affected water quality. Similarly, Dr. John Gripper, a veterinarian with over thirty years of international experience, an appointed zoo inspector in the UK, and Advisory Director of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, also found the animal enclosures too small and advised that Marineland ‘would fail an inspection under the standards of the UK Zoo Licensing Act’…Doug Cartlidge (a trainer of dolphins and killer whales for commercial zoos and consultant and researcher for government reviews of zoo facilities in the United Kingdom) likened conditions at Marineland to those found in Victorian-era zoos and noted that the institution was failing to provide adequate facilities for the animals or to address the abnormal behaviour of the animals held there.” (John Sorenson “Monsters: The Case of Marineland” in Animal Subjects: An Ethical Reader in a Posthuman world; edited by Jodey Castricano, 2008; pp.210-211)

In July of 2011, “An Ontario Superior Court judge…ordered the Niagara Falls-based animal and amusement park to return Ikaika, an eight-year-old male orca, to SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, the Orlando, Fla.-based owner. In court, SeaWorld expressed worry about the whale’s well-being at Marineland Canada, long a target for animal welfare activists. ‘The evidence of SeaWorld was that by 2009, it had become concerned about Ikaika’s physical and psychological health if it remained at Marineland,’ the St. Catharines-based judge wrote… Julie Woodyer, campaigns director for Zoocheck Canada, said her charity has strong concerns about Marineland’s treatment of whales, but that SeaWorld is only somewhat better. ‘None of these parks are able to meet the biological or behavioural needs of these animals,’ she said. ‘But certainly Marineland is one of the worst facilities in North America.’” (Peter Small, The Toronto Star, July 9, 2011)


The District School Board of Niagara policy document re: out of school programs/events states: “A worthwhile out of school program should include classroom preparation and follow-up and should challenge students in a manner consistent with curriculum expectations. Every effort should be made to keep the cost per student as reasonable as possible.”

The Niagara Catholic District School Board has a similar policy:
Principals are to ensure that the actual cost to the student is kept at a reasonable level, taking into consideration the fact that some parents have quite limited financial resources.


A child’s ticket costs $35.95. Although discounted for groups once you include the transportation costs etc. the cost of this trip may not be “reasonable.” There are many other trips that would be much cheaper and more educational. For example, the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada in Guelph which has a suggested donation of $5 per person or the Malcomson Eco-Park which is FREE!

The District School Board of Niagara policy document re: outdoor/environmental education states: “The District School Board of Niagara is committed to the provision of opportunities for all students to experience learning in the out-of-doors, to make personal connections with their world, and foster environmental stewardship and sustainability.

The safety of the individual is the priority of the District School Board of Niagara in any Outdoor/Environmental Education program.”


Marineland allows contact with animals that could be unsafe. For example, many diseases can be passed between species. Children in contact with deer in the park will be exposed to potential diseases and other forms of physical harm such as an attack from a deer. The picture below is a recent example of the types of open wounds that are on many of the deer at Marineland.

“These imprisoned individuals are beings who have been, in many cases, abducted from their families and societies through violence, subjected to various forms of abuse and deprivation as they have been transported over long distances and finally confined in severely restricted cages where they cannot escape the gaze of human spectators and often must perform on command in order to receive food.” (John Sorenson “Monsters: The Case of Marineland” in Animal Subjects: An Ethical Reader in a Posthuman world; edited by Jodey Castricano, 2008; p. 201)

The school board policy states: “The District School Board of Niagara
recognizes that the curriculum- linked and/or Environmental Education programs at the Woodend Environmental Centre and the St. Johns Outdoor Studies Centre provides support and enhances student learning. Implementation of these programs align to the Strategies and Actions as listed in the “Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow” document.”

These are much better options for school excursions.
The Niagara Catholic District School Board policy re: educational field trips states:
“Educational Field Trips are:

Any school supervised activity beyond the school property. Trips that directly enhance specific curriculum expectations designed to enhance student knowledge.
Based on Social Justice objectives are classified as educational field trips since social justice expectations are provided in all subject based curricula within Niagara Catholic.”


“Based on the assessments made by recognized experts, Marineland does not seem to be meeting any significant educational goals. For example, Dr. Naomi A. Rose, (marine mammal scientist and co-ordinator of marine mammal programs for the Humane Society of the United States) describes the dolphin show as ‘almost devoid of biological information’ and notes that the performance ‘would not meet the minimum professional educational standards required under the (American) Marine Mammal Protection Act.’ Rose judged Marineland to be a ‘sub-standard facility’ based on the small tanks to hold animals and the lack of educational content in the staged performances.” (John Sorenson “Monsters: The Case of Marineland” in Animal Subjects: An Ethical Reader in a Posthuman world; edited by Jodey Castricano, 2008; p. 202)

“It is possible for aquaria to conduct educational programs and to promote an interest in conservation and protection of animals. However, it is widely agreed that the educational services currently provided by these institutions typically remain superficial, offering approximately the same level of information that might be gained from browsing through any popular book on animals.” (John Sorenson “Monsters: The Case of Marineland” in Animal Subjects: An Ethical Reader in a Posthuman world; edited by Jodey Castricano, 2008; p. 203)

“Many experts believe that research based on animals held in these institutions may be irrelevant or misleading because captivity alters behaviour. Aquaria and zoos generally offer only a distorted picture of life for the animals on display. In most cases, the conditions of captivity are far removed from those of the animals’ natural habitat and this is certainly true in the case of the large marine mammals imprisoned at Marineland. These animals would normally travel great distances and spend their lives interacting with their families and social groups while at Marineland they are confined to small concrete pools and are held individually or penned in together with other animals who are not part of their own group. Furthermore, the lessons conveyed to the public by the confinement of animals are negative ones: they normalize imprisonment and domination. Instead of being seen as individuals with their own subjectivity and viewed within their natural ecosystems, they are turned into mere objects or presented as performing clowns, anxious to please their human masters.” (John Sorenson “Monsters: The Case of Marineland” in Animal Subjects: An Ethical Reader in a Posthuman world; edited by Jodey Castricano, 2008; p. 204)


Internationally, numerous scholars, philosophers, animal rights activists and journalists have referred to as a significant social justice issue in contemporary society. A visit to Marineland is the exact opposite of social justice. It is a profit-based industry that captures and enslaves animals in order to make money. This does not meet the policy requirements for an educational field trip.

The Niagara Catholic School Board policy re: educational field trips states:

“Whereas, the classroom setting and the school yard is not the only location where students learn, the Niagara Catholic District School Board subscribes to the following for all educational field trips:

Begin the moment the students leave the school property. Should be available to every student at every grade level; exceptions respecting individual students may be made at the discretion of the school Principal. Should enhance the provision of spiritual, esthetic, cultural, intellectual, athletic or social experiences.”


Since spirituality is individual and subjective it is best for parents and family members to write personally on how a trip to Marineland would not enhance the spiritual experiences of their child!

In addition, you may choose to comment on how a trip to Marineland is in direct contrast to the mission statement posted below.

“The Niagara Catholic District School Board, through the charisms of faith, social justice, support and leadership, nurtures and enriching Catholic learning community for all to reach their full potential and become living witnesses of Christ.”


If you have questions or comments or require further information, please contact us. Also, please forward us any letters you send to school boards or teachers and we will post them publicly.

[email protected]

3 thoughts on “School Trips

  1. Pingback: M.A.D. E-News: Closing Day Demonstration (Oct 12th), New Website and More! | Marineland Animal Defense

  2. Pingback: The Marineland Animal Defense Best of 2014 | Marineland Animal Defense

  3. It is a horrible way to expose children to imprisoned animals who are suffering for the greed of Marineland corporation.

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