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In Watershed Moment, Marineland Convicted of Animal Welfare Offences After Decades of Cruelty

In a historic first, Marineland has been convicted of offences under Ontario’s animal welfare laws for its treatment of three young bears.

“These convictions mark the first time Marineland has been found guilty of animal welfare offences, despite decades of evading accountability for unlawful animal cruelty,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “This is a watershed moment for animal protection. Now, it’s time for authorities to hold Marineland responsible for the appalling conditions that marine mammals continue to live in.”

In laying the charges in 2023, Animal Welfare Services (AWS) said Marineland failed to comply with orders to improve the care of three bears, and provide them with more space, clean drinking water, and vertical surfaces to help fulfill their natural need to climb. The three young bears in question were seized by authorities and now live in sanctuaries. 

In 2022, Animal Justice visited Marineland and witnessed bears with gashes on their faces. An employee confirmed that this was due to fighting.

The notorious Niagara Falls tourist attraction has come under fire for years for its treatment of captive aquatic and land animals, including Kiska, an orca whale who tragically died at Marineland in March, 2023 after suffering for over 40 years in a tank, and over a decade in solitary confinement. In 2021 and 2022, Animal Justice filed multiple legal complaints with AWS after heartbreaking videos surfaced showing Kiska, the sole orca, in clear distress—floating listlessly and slamming her body against the side of the tank. To date, AWS has not laid charges.

While this marks Marineland’s first conviction, the park has been charged repeatedly with offences related to animal cruelty.

In 2016, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) charged Marineland with five counts of animal cruelty over the improper care of black bears, guinea hens, and a peacock. In 2017, the OSPCA laid six additional charges over the poor treatment of elk and deer. Shockingly, the Crown later dropped those charges.

In 2021, Marineland was criminally charged for illegally forcing dolphins to perform for entertainment, following a legal complaint by Animal Justice. Again, the charge was dropped by the prosecutor, who claimed that proceeding to trial was not in the “public interest”.


Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
[email protected]