Marineland charged with 5 counts of animal cruelty

AP News
Posted: Nov 25, 2016 3:42 PM

TORONTO (AP) — Ontario's animal welfare agency has charged Marineland amusement park in the tourist city of Niagara Falls with five counts of animal cruelty.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said Friday the charges relate to peacocks, guinea hens and black bears.

The OSPCA said inspection officers and a veterinarian went to Marineland on Nov. 10 after receiving a complaint about alleged animal cruelty.

Marineland faces one count of permitting a peacock to be in distress, one count of failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for a peacock and two counts for failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for guinea hens.

The facility also faces charges related to failing to provide adequate food and water for its bears.

No animals have been removed, but the OSPCA said it would continue to monitor the animals as the investigation continues.

Marineland did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

OSPCA spokeswoman Alison Cross said further charges are pending.

"If convicted, they could face a $60,000 fine, a lifetime ban in owning animals and up to two years in jail," she said.

Marineland first opened in 1963 when owner John Holer started shows with a few sea lions in a small pool in Niagara Falls. It has since grown into a massive amusement park with one killer whale, dozens of beluga whales, dolphins, walruses and land animals such as deer, bears, birds and fish.

Marineland has been investigated before. Former employees went public with allegations of animal abuse at the park among both its marine and land animals in 2012. The OSPCA did not lay charges at the time but issued several orders, which Marineland complied with.

Marineland has long maintained it treats its animals well and has said all allegations of animal abuse are not true.