Edible Stickers Do Not Constitute Abuse

Black bear at Marineland, November 29, 2016

Black bear at Marineland, November 29, 2016

Charges of animal cruelty have been levelled against Marineland by the OSPCA because a few produce stickers had accidentally been left on the fresh fruit and vegetables being served to the park’s bear population.  The assertion that this amounts to a serious enough incident to warrant the charges laid makes a mockery of the OSPCA’s work.

Marineland maintains over 30 black bears at its facilities, and they receive regular feeding and care from staff we have carefully trained. We provide our bears with a very healthy diet of fish, fruits and vegetables, which has been approved multiple times in the past four years by the OSPCA. Veterinary staff examined the bears on November 23, 2016 and noted “the bears are on an excellent and varied diet.”

In the wild, black bears are opportunistic eaters – they can eat almost anything they encounter. Plant roots, berries and other fruit, insects, fish, and meat are common choices. When pressured, they will eat garbage, human food, rotting flesh, and have even resorted to cannibalism. They are dangerous animals when malnourished, and have the power to take down a moose. Inadequate diet is not only a danger to the animal, it would place our workers at risk.

We provide produce fit for human consumption, and will cut off spots of the various fruits and vegetables that do not look good. The bears are provided 170kg of produce daily, and this amount is adjusted based on intake to ensure they are neither under nor overfed. We do not provide feed that would endanger the health of the animals in our care. While we try to remove all produce stickers, some have ended up in the feed. However, all produce stickers in Canada are made with edible paper or other food grade materials, including the adhesive, so there is no risk to the animals.

There has never been a complaint made by anyone, including the OSPCA, about the water provided to the bears. The bears have easy access to a constantly refreshing supply of spring water available to them, pumped to them straight from the source.

The bears are also provided with over 100 kg of fish daily, taken from the same storage facilities we use to hold the fish we serve our marine mammals. This fish is fit for human consumption to ensure high quality and good health in our animals. The fish are stored in a freezer until they are prepared and served to the bears.

To suggest the small, edible stickers found on virtually every piece of fruit and vegetable in North American supermarkets poses a threat to an adult black bear is ludicrous. The OSPCA appears to be bowing to pressure from activist animal groups to seem to be doing something, even if it is the wrong thing, rather than doing what is in the best interest of the animals. If they are hoping that by launching these baseless charges that the radical animal rights groups will go quietly, they will soon learn they have only emboldened the activists to come up with ever more spurious claims they expect the OSPCA to pursue.