Media Releases

Animal Justice Applies to Intervene in Marineland Sentencing

WELLAND—Animal Justice, Canada’s leading animal law organization, is seeking leave from the Provincial Offences Court to participate in the sentencing phase of Marineland’s recent conviction. The group has asked the Court to grant it “intervener” status. 

Earlier this year, the notorious aquarium and roadside zoo in Niagara Falls, Ontario, was convicted of failing to comply with orders issued by Provincial Animal Welfare Services to protect the wellbeing of three young bears held at the facility.

When Provincial Animal Welfare Services issued the orders, the bears were living in small pens without climbing structures or water features. The orders required Marineland to improve the conditions the bears were kept in, including by providing larger enclosures with appropriate enrichment and water sources.

After the facility failed repeatedly to improve their living conditions, Slash, Lizzie and Toad were seized and sent to sanctuaries.

Remarkably, this is the first time Marineland has been convicted of animal welfare offences, despite multiple criminal and provincial  charges, and a string of animal deaths.

Marineland is scheduled to be sentenced for failing to comply with the orders on August 15 in Welland, Ontario. As one of the first successful prosecutions under Ontario’s Provincial Animal Welfare Service Act (PAWS Act), which became law in 2019, the Court’s decision later this summer will likely inform future sentencing decisions.

By seeking intervener status in the sentencing, Animal Justice aims to provide the Court with the fullest picture possible of the harm inflicted upon these three bears, and use its legal expertise to highlight how courts should craft sentences in cases such as this.

“In sentencing Marineland, the Court’s decision should reflect the suffering that these three bears endured, and send a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in Ontario,” said Kaitlyn Mitchell, director of legal advocacy with Animal Justice. “If granted intervener status, we will highlight for the Court the importance of considering the interests of animal victims in sentencing offences under the PAWS Act. Sentences that protect vulnerable animals from future harm and suffering are a key way to ensure the purposes of the new law are achieved.”


Josh Lynn
Public Relations Manager
[email protected]