Marineland faced with five counts of animal cruelty
Sunday, November 27, 2016, 1:14 PM - The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) is charging Marineland with five counts of animal cruelty regarding the amusement park's treatment of peacocks, guinea hens, and black bears.
The park was charged one count for permitting a peacock to be in distress; one count for failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for a peacock; two counts for failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for guinea hens; and one count for failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care -- including failing to provide adequate and appropriate food and water for approximately 35 American Black Bears.
The investigation came after a former animal care worker filed a complaint about the welfare of the animals kept at the amusement park. A statement from Marineland notes that the animal care worker was fired for poor performance and inappropriate behaviour.
On Nov. 10, the OSPCA officers and a veterinarian investigated the concerns, however no animals were removed. Under the OSPCA's guidelines, the organization has the right to remove an animal under the following conditions:
- The animal is in immediate distress.
- A veterinarian has recommended the removal of the animal to ensure the animal gets the care it needs.
- OSPCA Act orders were issued but not complied with.
Of the thousands of birds housed at the Niagara amusement park, one peacock had an issue with its eye, the statement from Marineland said. Otherwise, the peacock displayed healthy habits, eating and engaging with other birds while being tended to by the park's veterinarian, the statement added.
With regard to the guinea hens, concerns were flagged after members of the OSPCA entered the hens' pen.
"Guinea hens, like any wild bird, did not respond well to the sudden entrance into their enclosure of four OSPCA staff,” the statement said.
It added that OSPCA staff asked for more space for the hens, a requirement that Marineland has complied with by providing an extra area for shelter.
As for the black bears, the park's statement highlighted that the OSPCA's concern was regarding "one or more small labels attached to fruit and vegetables had managed to make their way into the food that is provided to the bears."
"Occasionally, a label is missed," the statement read. "That is regrettable but it does not pose any risk to the bears."
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"Reports of animal cruelty are taken very seriously," OSPCA senior inspector Steve Toy said in a statement. "When we receive reports of cruelty that involve wildlife or exotic animals, we will utilize our experts as well as industry experts to assist us with our investigation."
If convicted, the penalties include a $60,000 fine, two years of jail time, and a lifetime ban on animal ownership, OSPCA media spokesperson Alison Cross told The Star.
More than a dozen whistle-blowers from Marineland approached the publication in 2012 with claims of animal mistreatment. Further charges remain pending in the current investigation.
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