Although we have already released a statement on CAZA and the OSPCA some news outlets reported a position from M.A.D. that was not reflective and others have been left with many questions. We want to be clear on a few things.
- That CAZA publicly announced ANY issue with Marineland is extremely rare and is evidence that other CAZA members are upset that Marineland is bringing down the captive animal industry. *This can also be illustrated by the projected Ripley’s Aquarium releasing an odd distancing/shaming statement about the use of “sound sensitive” mammals.
- That CAZA called for an independent investigation into ANY aspect of Marineland is also extremely rare and is evidence that they acknowledge they will have to give up some of their legitimacy in order to be seen as any kind of credible voice.
The “issues” CAZA announced were both small and large. They are small in the sense that they cover for severe abuse and neglect, however, they are large in that the entire captive marine mammal industry struggles with issues of water control as they all must constantly attempt to re-create conditions and environments which are impossible to re-create (which is itself a form of abuse and neglect).
What matters most to CAZA and Marineland though is that this report was announced before the OSPCA report - just as their attempt to get out front of the story with a misleading press release not long after the inspection. Misleading headlines continue to pour in - i.e. “Marineland cleared.” Local politicans Kim Craitor (MPP) and Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati have also chimed in with Mayor Jim absurdly stating - “I think people will be pleased.” If that wasn’t rich enough, Marineland also issued their own release after the CAZA report crying crocodile tears and positioning the park as the real victims in this situation. Spin is the main intention of the release of this non-inspection and it signals that Marineland is unsure and afraid of what may be released in the OSPCA inspection - especially if released publicly.
The OSPCA countered with a release of it’s own stating that their investigation is on-going, that they have found issues, and also offered the caveat - any animal found to be under the care of a licensed veterinarian is exempt under the Ontario SPCA Act under Sec. 11.1(3)(a) and therefore is removed from the Society’s investigation. This specific line caused outrage as many of the animals included in the Star Investigation are marine mammals that are under the “care” of Dr. June Mergl and it has now pushed Ontario Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur to publicly question the OSPCA Act and abandon repeating - “Let’s wait for the inspection report.” Notably, Frank Klees (Conservative MPP) - who’s party Leader Tim Hudak stated that the Province had “better things to do with their time” than deal with Marineland - also joined the chorus calling for change - making Cheri DiNovo’s (NDP MPP) position less lonely. It is important to read between the lines because although many are outraged by the OSPCA clearly passing the buck to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, this bureaucratic bumbling has actually pushed legislation a step farther towards reality.
What that legislation will contain is another story and as a whole Marineland Animal Defense would like to re iterate that our campaign does not end with legislation - unless that legislation abolishes the captive animal industry and parks like Marineland. We don’t hold our breath for the OSPCA, CAZA, or for regulation and reform - our goal has always been and will always be the closure of Marineland the removal of animals on site to non profit environments of care and rehabilitation. Til the end.