Marineland failed to provide adequate water source for bear cubs, Ontario alleges

Marineland failed to provide three bear cubs with adequate, permanent water sources and climbing structures, Ontario alleges in court documents.

Animal Welfare Services, the provincial inspectorate that enforces animal cruelty laws, filed three charges Tuesday against the Niagara Falls, Ontario, tourist attraction for failing to comply with an order related to the care of three black bears. young americans.

Marineland denied any wrongdoing.

“Marineland has always provided and continues to provide excellent care that meets and exceeds provincial animal welfare laws and regulations,” the park said in an email to The Canadian Press.

Marineland said it hopes it can defend itself in court.

The park failed to comply with part of an order “by failing to provide the three bears with access to water sources such as pools, streams or ponds that are permanent and have an adequate filtration system to maintain institutional water quality parameters or that are designed to allow easy drainage. , clean and refill at appropriate intervals to ensure the water remains drinkable,” said Nicole Pratt, a senior investigator with Animal Welfare Services, which is part of the Attorney General’s Ministry.

Marineland failed to comply with that order between Sept. 11, 2021, and Feb. 18, 2022, the province alleged.

A second charge alleges that the park failed to comply with another part of the order “by failing to provide the three bears with access to available vertical space within the enclosure by providing climbing structures that promote natural locomotion patterns for the bears.”

Marineland did not respond to questions about those two charges.

The province said the third charge relates to the size of the bear enclosures.

On that charge, the province alleges that Marineland failed to properly house the bears between June 18, 2021 and February 18, 2022.

The province wanted the park to house the three bears in a 10,000-square-foot enclosure, or 5,000 square feet for each bear if they had to live alone.

“Instead, we opted to release the bears in a sanctuary,” Marineland said. “We understand that they are staying healthy in their new homes.”

The park said the bears were healthy and always under veterinary care.

The charges against Marineland have been filed under a section of the Law of Provincial Animal Welfare Services which allows an inspector to issue an order to help animals that may be in distress. The facility must comply with the order or else face charges.

Failure to comply with an order carries a fine of up to $75,000 or up to six months in jail.

The province launched its investigation into the treatment of bears at Marineland after an employee came forward in February 2020 saying she saved three newborn bears from the bear den.

Maddie Black, who no longer works at Marineland, told The Canadian Press at the time that she was unable to save a fourth cub. Marineland then said that the adult bears were protecting that fourth bear. The fate of that cub is unknown.

Marineland said it had 16 adult bears at the time and the cubs were not in any physical danger, but they were concerned if the cubs’ mother or mothers would be able to care for the cubs.

The park said the births were accidental, due to a failure of birth control.

In 2013, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ordered Marineland to build separate habitats to protect bear cubs from being mutilated and eaten by adult males. Marineland said it would develop a birth control program, which the OSPCA, which enforced cruelty laws, agreed to. The park said it complied with the order by using birth control injections.

In 2016, the OSPCA charged Marineland with one count of failing to meet prescribed standards of care for its bears.

So there were 35 American black bears in the park. The OSPCA claimed that the park failed to provide them with adequate and appropriate food and water.

The Crown later dropped those charges, saying there was no reasonable chance of a conviction.

Marineland is home to a mix of marine and land animals.

An unknown number of bears now live in an enclosure with a large den and a den.

Visitors can feed the bears popcorn from the top of a viewing deck.

Since January 2020, cruelty officers from the Animal Welfare Services have been inspecting Marineland regularly, although details of the ongoing investigation remain secret.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 2, 2023.

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