Thank you so much to everyone who folded origami and help us break the Guinness World Record for Vijay! In the end we nearly doubled the record with just under 3,000 origami whales displayed.
Our future is bright and we are one step closer to Vijay’s wish - freedom for all of his friends captive at Marineland.
If you are here there is a good chance you just thunderclapped Marineland - or saw someone who did. Thank you!
For folks who don’t know about this campaign, it is a pressure campaign that is anti-captivity and that wants to see the closure of the captive animal park Marineland (Niagara Falls, On) and the removal of the animals on site to settings of care.
This campaign is two years old. Today, as you read this, we are countering Marineland’s opening day with a demonstration of around 600-1000 people. We are hoping that this crowd is larger than our last demonstration - closing day - which brought out around 800 people in opposition to Marineland.
Our goals may seem outrageous to you, but captive animal parks close all of the time all over the world. Why are there no dolphinariums in the UK? Why did Switzerland recently ban the import of marine mammals? Why did India just reject attempts to establish marine mammal captive parks? All of this is because people worldwide have seen the truth behind this industry and it’s driving force - profit. These animals live horrific and frustrated lives so that they can make a select amount of people very wealthy. They prey on the curiosity and wonderment of children and, if they are not opposed, they can sell it as “education.”
We want to see all for profit captive animal parks close, those captive released to care and a shift towards keeping wild animals in the wild and protecting the habitats and environments that they live in. They have communities, families, culture, wants and desires of their own, and they demand our respect.
For people who want to join with us we will have several more large demonstrations this summer - the next being July 27th as part of a large coordinated international demonstration date against captive marine mammal park. Aside from that, you can join our mailing list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org asking to be on it, and you can find our social media pages here - Facebook / Twitter. We’d also appreciate it if you signed our petition to close the wild capture loophole in Canada - a move that would mean no more marine mammals ripped from their homes for captive parks in Canada.
For anyone who wants to watch the livestream of the event today, or send a message of support - head to the demonstration event page.
Please also look for and continue to use those #marineland and #endcaptivity hash tags today as well to get them trending.
We hope that we send a message today that cannot be ignored. Together, we can make captive animal parks a thing of the past.
Marineland Animal Defense
When the news broke of 8 ex employees coming forward detailing systemic abuse and neglect of animals at Marineland we shifted our focus trying to understand the complaint process for another self regulated body - the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO).
Not long after that story broke Marineland put forward their head veterinarian, June Mergl, as a spokesperson for the facility. June lead select media sources on a “behind the scenes” tour of the facility and made statements about the health and well being of the animals that shocked and disgusted some of the employees so much that they came forward joining the 8 employees who already had.
In the meantime, we worked on compiling all of these stories to highlight testimony and allegations which potentially suggested that June Mergl and other veterinarians at Marineland had failed in their duty to report animal abuse and neglect. We had reached out to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, specifically acting Registrar Jan Robinson and Connie Mallory Chief Inspector, in August, 2012 and learned about the complaint process as well as the investigation process - which can either be a typical complaint process, or a registrar investigation. We sent over the information that we had compiled hoping that at the very least the CVO would not be able to claim that they had no knowledge of the issue.
As time went by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) announced that they were applying a legislative loophole to their investigation of Marineland and considering the the animals under vet care - the marine mammals - to be outside of their jurisdiction. Many people were floored. In effect, the OSPCA who lacked capacity, knowledge and power passed the buck to the CVO. The immediate question becomes: did the vets at Marineland fail to report abuse and neglect (and were they involved in covering it up?)
All of this became more important when on Nov 3, 2012 at a fundraiser in Toronto Phil Demers disclosed that veterinarians at Marineland had actually given him drugs for personal use. (Also of note is that via legal documents it appears as though Marineland would have had a representative present at that event who also would have heard these allegations). We were floored. We took footage from that event and sent it to CVO Investigations and Inspections Specialist Martin Fischer and at that time were told that he would relay the information to Registrar Jan Robinson. He also cautioned, “The Registrar has authority, under Sec. 36 of the Veterinarians Act, to order an investigation into allegations of professional misconduct by veterinarians. However, pursuant to the confidentiality provisions at Sec. 38 of the Act, please be advised that you will not be privy to the results of any such investigation, nor will such investigation become public, save and except if the investigation results in a referral to a disciplinary hearing.”
We decided at that time to not make this allegation public as we wanted to provide the CVO with the ability to go through their investigation process. Much has been made by regulatory bodies over the last year about not following the proper complaint procedure and not giving them enough time or space to conduct investigations. We wanted to make sure we didn’t hear this excuse again.
We were shocked to later find out that CVO still had a press release on their site stating that they had received no “formal complaints” in regards to Marineland. (It is now down). We reached out again to Investigations and Inspections Specialist Martin Fischer at which time he relayed that the press release was inaccurate and would be taken down - but also that our complaint was not consider formal, however, “is being acted on as a Registrar’s Investigation (Section 36). This does not mean that the information is being treated less seriously. It simply means that the Registrar can choose to assign an investigator to look into the allegations. The potential end result is the same (disciplinary action), but the method of investigation is different.’
Today all of these allegations become more serious as ex-Marineland employee Phil Demers publicly released his statement of defense in which he included an allegation that Marineland’s veterinarians had made drugs available to not only other employees - but also to park owner John Holer himself. That allegation was entirely new to us and is something which deserves serious investigation.
We have to caution that these are allegations - they have not been proven in court. We also stress that it is important to get to the bottom of these allegations. If there is a drug ring operating at Marineland that is being facilitated by Marineland’s veterinarians than the public has a right to know (and quickly) and those responsible should be held to account. If the allegations are false, then those they are made against have the right to that information being exposed as such.
We are not investigators. We are not the CVO. We are concerned members of the public who think animal captivity for human profit is inexcusable. Like all others involved in this issue, we have a bias.
Also, like everyone else, we wait. Who will get to the bottom of these allegations? We don’t know the answer to that question - but we do know that as we wait the lives of many animals hang in the balance.
UPDATE: This was also given mention on the Niagara Falls Review Article “Ex-Trainer Launches Defense Against Marineland” published on Thursday May 16th.
BREAKING: In his statement of defense ex-trainer Phil Demers has alleged that park veterinarians had given drugs, intended for animals, to employees and John Holer for their own personal use! Stay tuned as we release the full history of our complaint to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario on this exact point.
We are always trying to look for ways to involve both folks who can make it out to demonstrations and those who cannot. For ways that we can organize our voices together to have the greatest impact, whether that be coordinated call in to a politician, or a social media strategy.
We hadn’t seen Thunderclap used very often, and many folks who have already signed up are new to the platform, but it just made sense. It is easy to use, takes less than a minute to set up, and is reliable to not share information or have access accounts after it’s use.
With the counter now under 3 days until launch - 12pm EST on May 18th to match the beginning of the official demonstration schedule - we already have over 213 people signed up and a reach of over 105,000+!
We need just another 40 people to sign up to reach out goal so that our message will go out. That message will be - “Wild animals belong in the wild. Shut down #marineland and make all captive parks a thing of the past #endcaptivity http://thndr.it/15Bigoy”
When we crafted that message we wanted to make it as inclusive as possible. Marineland has attempted to shame us in the press by insinuating that we are embarrassed about our “radical” position opposing all animal captivity. It shocked us, as it’s a position we’ve always held and something that is neither “radical” or something to be ashamed about. It is a position endorsed by many who have worked in the industry, scientists, children, teachers, professionals and unprofessionals, students, advocates, etc.
Our goal, as always, is to unite all of those people. To organize those voices into a concentrated demand that can no longer be ignored. Our Thunderclap of Marineland is just one attempt, our demonstration on the 18th on site is another. Please, do what you can to support both and to add your voice to this chorus!
For those on social media - use these tags throughout the day on May 18th! The more they are used the better the chances that they will trend and cast and even further reach.