Animal Cruelty Charges Against Marineland Are Dropped

Canada’s troubled Marineland has faced ongoing scrutiny following a series of investigations that exposed horrifying treatment of both its marine and land animals. Earlier this year it looked like the facility was finally going to be held accountable for at least some of its wrongdoing after animal cruelty charges were filed, but those charges have just been dropped.

Problems at this controversial facility reached a wide audience back in 2012 after the Toronto Star published a series of articles detailing the suffering of animals there. Unfortunately, later investigations conducted by Last Chance for Animals (LCA) brought to light the fact that little has changed over the past few years.

The organization exposed shocking mistreatment of beluga whales – which landed it on In Defense of Animals’ first annual list of the Top Ten Worst Tanks for Dolphins and Whales in North America – and even more problems for land animals there. All the while, Marineland has also faced backlash for its mistreatment of Kiska, Canada’s lone captive orca.

LCA’s investigations prompted the Ontario SPCA to file animal cruelty charges. First it brought five counts of animal cruelty in December 2016 related to the mistreatment of peacocks, guinea hens and American black bears, which were followed by six new charges related to the mistreatment of elk, red deer and fallow deer that were brought in January 2017.

The maximum penalties for the charges Marineland faced included  a $60,000 fine, two years in jail, and, most importantly, a lifetime ban on owning animals.

Now, in a surprising turn of events this week, all of the charges have been dropped. According to the Toronto Star, prosecutors said there was “no reasonable chance of conviction on most of the 11 counts” and although the court could have proceeded with three of them related to the peacock, guinea hens and red deer, it “did not believe it was in the public interest to do so, citing potential court costs and a weak case,” despite the evidence that was presented.

The OSPCA, which found out the charges were dropped after the fact, said in a statement, “We are extremely disappointed in this outcome and feel that this matter is of public interest as all animals rely on humans for appropriate care for their general welfare and the public demands this.”

It’s difficult to understand how pursuing charges isn’t in the public interest when thousands upon thousands of people have spoken out over Marineland’s mistreatment of animals, and against captivity in general.

“We are disappointed in the Crown’s decision to drop all charges against Marineland. During a five-month investigation into the theme park, Last Chance for Animals documented an unconscionable level of neglect and complete disregard for the well-being of the land animals under Marineland’s care. The Crown’s decision to drop all charges despite having sufficient evidence to move forward on at least three counts is shameful. It is the government’s responsibility to hold Marineland accountable and enforce existing animal welfare laws. There has been a tremendous increase in the public’s awareness of the plight of captive wildlife and cruelty will not be tolerated. Last Chance for Animals will continue to fight for the animals at Marineland,” said LCA’s President and Founder Chris DeRose.

The court certainly failed to bring justice for the animals at Marineland, but we can hope the attention this case received, and the ongoing problems that have been found there and brought to light, will help discourage people from visiting the park, or any other facilities that confine wild animals for nothing more than our amusement and profit.

The OSPCA in the meantime is encouraging people to voice their concerns about the case to the Ministry of Attorney General by calling or emailing, and is asking anyone with concerns about the animals at Marineland to report new information to them.

Photo credit: Day Trips Canada


Paola S
Paola S4 days ago

Thanks for the update

Kathryn I
Kathryn I9 days ago

Petition signed! Thanks!

Melania P
Melania Padilla16 days ago

So unfair

Margie F24 days ago

Just like sexual abuse. They need a stadium of witnesses to see this in the act.

Jennifer H
Jennifer H26 days ago

Not enough to convict? What the heck would it take? There is plenty of visual evidence to prosecute and convict. Sounds like a payoff to me. Evil people.

Miss D
Miss D27 days ago

Sorry, my post got cut off earlier. The link I was trying to give about Lolita, the lonely female killer whale living in Miami Seaquarium in the USA, was this:

Magdalen B
Magdalen B27 days ago


kathy b
kathy bonard28 days ago

It throws an awful light on Canada,thought they were more humane than that.

Nicolas Nasrallah

Canada lags behine many civilized nations in animal welfare. The gov't is run by coporations whos seem to care more about money than lives. Elections are coming and people will have a say.

Ruth S
Ruth S29 days ago