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.

Guinea Fowl and other Avians

Many people are surprised to learn that Marineland contains both marine and land animals, but that has been true since the very beginning of the park. Plans have been underway to bring in a third element, with the introduction of avian or bird species. While these plans are not yet ready for the public, the animals are subject to examination by the OSPCA and are provided care through veterinary services.

During their recent visit, the OSPCA inspectors entered a guinea fowl pen. Guinea Hens, like any wild bird, did not respond well to the sudden entrance into their enclosure of four OSPCA staff, of which just one was a trained veterinarian. The OSPCA expressed their desire that more space be given to the Hens. Marineland has provided an additional area for the Guinea Hens to shelter.

Upon later inspection by the veterinarian Marineland brought in to ensure the park followed the OSPCA orders, one guinea hen was culled due to lameness, while the rest of the grasps, comprising roughly 175 fowl, are normal and healthy.

Among the other birds at Marineland, two turkeys of the flock of 80 were culled due to dyspnea [laboured breathing] after exertion, and no problems were found among the approximately 2,500 pheasants housed in four separate outdoor pens with shelters.

Together with the report on Petey the Peacock, there were no other findings related to the various avian species at Marineland. Among the several thousands of birds, only these isolated few have required veterinary attention. Marineland continues to provide quality care to all its marine, land, and avian animals.

The OSPCA failed to return to Marineland to determine whether their orders had been implemented before choosing to lay charges.

 

Red Deer, American Elk, and Fallow Deer

Red Deer 3The benefit of relying on veterinarians instead of amateur video collected by individuals with axes to grind and an agenda to promote is we have the facts.

Do animals die at Marineland? Sadly yes. Is it because of neglect, cruelty or inhumane treatment? Never. Here is some information on the bulk of our land animal groups at Marineland.

Marineland has a herd of approximately 200 Red Deer. Three deer were culled as part of the normal and humane process that we are all familiar with, when a family pet reaches a stage of health or age that leads us to the sad but necessary conclusion that putting our friend to sleep is in its best interests.  That is not abuse it is mercy and an act of kindness.

We also have a herd of approximately 40 American Elk. No problems are reported with this herd, and all have acceptable body condition according to veterinary examination. They are neither underweight nor overweight, as either condition would negatively affect their health. In addition, we have a herd of approximately 400 fallow deer, and again no problems are reported with this herd.

Of the nearly 650 elk and deer at Marineland, a total of three had medical conditions and had to be culled from the herd. These species often live for 20 years, so it is only natural at any time for a few individuals to be of an advanced age. As well, mild injuries often take place during mating season. 

Part of the goal of parks like Marineland is to bring urban dwellers into contact with these animals so they can learn and understand them better. That way, they will see the natural life cycle of these animals, from birth through adult life, their reproductive customs, seasonal variations and actions, and eventual old age. They will see how they naturally interact as much as possible.

Minor injuries will normally take place within a herd of deer. When these injuries or other conditions result in distress to the animal, we provide the required medical care to relieve distress with the goal of returning the animal back to the herd. 

Food Preparation at Marineland For Bears

Black bears at Marineland, November 29, 2016

Black bears at Marineland, November 29, 2016

Despite allegations that Marineland stores food in our land animal morgue, in reality this is completely untrue. The Canadian Press has footage that shows none of the dog food in the food preparation area, and none of the actual food fed to bears in the land animal morgue.

We feed our bears a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and fish. We are able to secure human grade produce for our bears, that is past its best before date, but not expired — and our team manually sorts through this food, removing any pieces that appear mouldy, discoloured or otherwise unfit for bears. The fish is sourced from the marine mammal kitchen on the other side of the park and brought over in buckets, just prior to the bears being fed so it can be prepared with the rest of their daily meal.

The produce in the images is awaiting preparation. Like every food pantry or refrigerator, the produce is in its original packaging from the food supply service. The next stage will require employees to trim, cull, select, and prepare the produce for the bears, then mix and portion the food servings to ensure they receive a balanced diet. Any inedible, spoiled, or otherwise unacceptable elements would be removed for disposal at this point.

As for the final disposition of the diet we serve at Marineland, the complainant claimed the majority of our bears suffer from chronic diarrhea, something that is absolutely false. There are no bears at Marineland suffering from unaddressed diarrhea, and to suggest spring water and human grade fish and produce are causing gastro issues for animals known to be attracted to rotting flesh and garbage in the wild is preposterous. As with all the other claims by Last Chance for Animals, this scatological allegation is not worth further consideration.

 

Gia and the LCA

Gia the beluga whale, at Marineland November 29, 2016

Gia the beluga whale, at Marineland November 29, 2016

Marineland has been the target of other false and misinformed attacks from the radical animal activist group, Last Chance for Animals since 2013. In January of 2016, they issued one such assault that included a claim about Gia, one of the beluga whales in our care.

According to LCA, “Gia, a juvenile beluga who was initially separated from her mother by accident, was left in a shallow isolation pool for three months while she became emaciated”. This certainly sounds like a terrible situation, except this view from Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles is very different from the one in our park. Something got distorted over those 4,000 kilometres.

This allegation and others by LCA sparked an investigation by the OSPCA, who were rightfully worried about reports that a beluga would be purposely left isolated and starved. Except, like all claims coming from LCA regarding Marineland, the truth ended up being remarkably different.

According to the veterinary and park staff who care for Gia and her mother daily, when Gia was two and a half years old she was not at the same weight as the rest of the belugas of the same age. She was still being fed by her mother, but her mother was pregnant and due that summer. Gia would eat some fish that was provided to her, but not enough.

Staff grew concerned at her lack of growth and took steps to correct the issue. At first, they tried supplementing her fish with oils, but it wasn’t giving them the results they wanted. The decision was made to place her in our Friendship Cove to receive more intensive treatment and where she could be monitored frequently. Gia soon began increasing her diet. It was a gradual gain, but she soon gained enough weight to be safely reintroduced to the main pod.

When all this had been explained and proven to the satisfaction of OSPCA investigators, no charges were laid. In fact, no changes in care or procedures were even requested, because there simply was no truth to the LCA allegations. Once again, they were merely trumped up complaints meant to discredit and defame Marineland.

Last Chance for Animals brought up their lies about Gia again this week to defend their latest round of fundraising/complaints against Marineland and we felt that once again, we’d respond to their falsehoods.

 

Anti-Marineland Activists Playing Veterinarian With Video – Again

Marineland, Niagara Falls – Why would animal rights activists sit on footage of an animal they believed to be suffering for 103 days before releasing it? Today, August 31, 2016 anti-Marineland protesters released a video filmed of a deer on May 21, 2016 titled ‘Injured deer at Marineland Canada’ with the following sensational description “Marineland Canada is under intense scrutiny for their treatment of whales and dolphins, but this neglect extends well beyond marine mammals.”

In reality, anti-Marineland activists have filmed a scenario common to all land based mammals who set foot or hoof in an environment where pebbles lurk. The deer in question had a pebble caught in his hoof, similar to when a beachgoer has a pebble in their shoe. This is an experience that no one, not even a deer, would enjoy. At Marineland, our staff respond to situations like these by approaching the animal and removing the pebble from their hoof – a service not offered to deer in the wild.

The catastrophized medical diagnoses offered by individuals relying on poor quality footage shot on cellphone cameras is once again wrong. Despite the ill-informed prophecies of individuals who lack any formal veterinary training, once again selective footage of one reality has been presented as something completely different.

In the real world where Marineland’s mammals live and continue to thrive, our animal care team diligently provide unparalleled levels of care for the mammals who live at our park. We embrace the frequent visits from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) and continue to follow best practices of animal care, despite the ill-informed opinions of non-experts who exclusively rely on amateur videos to feed their need to find something to fault at Marineland.

Marineland Canada is the most regulated and inspected facility of its kind and offers a fun -filled destination for families and friends, while also providing an opportunity to interact with a variety of species that most in the Great Lakes region would otherwise be unable to see. Our park continues to remain committed to providing high quality care to all animals who call Marineland home and continues to rely on formally educated and qualified veterinary experts who have real time interaction with our animals to do so.

We welcome inquiries from media on this latest false claim from anti-Marineland activists and others where a reality check is needed and will be happy to work with any government sanctioned regulator or investigator who is interested in knowing more about our land based mammal care practices.

 

Why Do the Deer Antlers Look Different in Spring and Fall?

If you picture a male deer, chances are you imagine a pair of bony antlers. If you were to come across a male deer in late fall, that’s exactly what you’d see – majestic racks of antlers. Deer antlers are made of bone, unlike the horns of animals like goats and sheep which are made of hair-like tissue that continually grows in layers over a bony center.

If you visit Marineland in the spring or early summer, you may see our deer with a beautiful fuzzy coating over their growing antlers. The growing antler is covered by skin with numerous blood vessels called velvet. This velvet gives them that fuzzy look. As spring turns to summer, these growing antlers turn from a soft, spongy feel to hard bone.

So what happens in between? In early August the bone antler stops growing and the blood flow is cut off to the velvet coating. This causes the velvet to dry and start to fall off in patches, eventually revealing the pure bone antler beneath. It can look strange, and guests are not allowed to walk among the deer once this process starts, but it’s a perfectly natural and pain-free transition for the animal.

In the winter, after breeding season is over, deer lose their antlers completely. A number of factors regulate when deer shed their antlers, and they don’t always lose both at the same time. If you plan a visit to Marineland at different times through the season, take a look at the deer to see this amazing natural phenomenon in action.

Video of Whitetail Buck Shedding Antler Velvet

Dragon Mountain® Roller Coaster – The Ride

Your ride on Dragon Mountain roller coaster begins with a walk through a massive dragon’s open mouth, down into a mysterious, cavernous loading station. From the edge of the platform, you will step into one of the seven-car, 28 passenger coaster trains. You are secured in place with a padded overhead shoulder bar.

DragonMountain-clr

Leaving the station, the train descends deeper underground and enters a 14-foot diameter tunnel. Coming out into daylight as it starts its 386 foot climb to the top of the huge lift at a 27 degree angle, it reaches the crest of the mountain veers left and screams down the first hill at 47 degrees and back up into the double vertical loops.

Dragon Mountain

Coming out of the second loop, you arc to the right, then fly into the first of two horizontal spirals as they work their way deeper into the bowels of the earth. A 92-foot diameter spiral is centered just above the 104-foot spiral forming an inverted cone. You roar into the daylight and bank around a broad horseshoe curve before plunging again into a tunnel (1,163 feet of tunnels in total – more than any other coaster in the world) and then disappearing into the mountain wall.

As you leave the tunnel, you are suddenly hurled into the final white-knuckle thrill – the bowtie – two staggered loops which will turn you upside down twice within seconds.

A fitting climax to a fantastic ride! Ready to ride it again?

FACT SHEET

Dragon Mountain is a world-class roller coaster, at Marineland, Niagara Falls, Canada.

* One of the longest non-stop coaster rides in the world.

* Maximum speed of the ride is up to 50 miles per hour.

* At 5,500 feet, one of the longest steel coaster rides ever built.

* Features more tunnels – 1,163 feet – than any other
coaster in the world.

* Spread over 30 acres of land – largest ever.

* One of the highest in North America – 186 feet high.

* Thrilling speed perception first coaster ever to hug the contours
of a man-made mountain.

* Lift length and angle – 386 feet at 27 degrees.

* 86 foot loops.

* Diameters of double spirals are 92 feet and 104 feet.

* 48” height requirement

They’re Born This Way – Adaptations for an Aquatic Environment

Beluga whales often swim in shallow waters at depths that barely cover their bodies. In general they are not thought of as deep diving marine mammals, but they are capable of making deep dives and staying under water for as long as 15 minutes. Why are they able to do that?

Nahanni

Like other marine mammals, beluga whales possess a number of physiological adaptations that we humans do not have that allow them to dive to deep depths and stay under water for longer periods of time than we can.

During dives beluga whales have a slower heart rate. Also, while diving, blood is shunted away from tissues in their bodies that can tolerate low levels of oxygen towards the heart, lungs and brain where more oxygen is needed. Beluga whales possess more oxygen in their blood than most other animals. And, last, but not least, the muscle of belugas has a high content of an oxygen-binding protein called myoglobin. This protein stores oxygen and prevents muscle oxygen deficiency.

All of these adaptations enable the beluga whale to conserve oxygen while under water and do something we humans can only do through artificial means.

Are Bears Really Anti-Social?

Bears are generally thought of as strictly anti-social, solitary animals, but this is not correct. Habitat impediments, such as range size, prevent bears from interacting with each other very often in the wild. When they do meet competition for food or a mate can result in an encounter that is rather hostile. However, when competition for food or a mate is absent, bears have been known to strike up friendly relationships with each other and have even been observed playing together for long periods of time. This play typically takes the form of wrestling matches. Such play behaviour is often interpreted as aggression when it’s just two bears deciding to have some fun.

BearsWrestling

It’s true that bears do not live in herds or packs, but they can and do co-exist in close proximity to each other where food sources are plentiful and their numbers high. They will share home ranges with other bears by establishing a social hierarchy based on size, age and disposition. A bear will establish and maintain its place in the hierarchy by posturing or acting aggressively. In most cases these exhibitions of aggression do not escalate to a full-fledged altercation against another individual with the less dominant bear eventually backing down.

The stone structure located in Marineland's Bear Country is quite large and contains many caves and tunnels providing the bears with shade and protection from bad weather.

The stone structure located in Marineland’s Bear Country is quite large and contains many caves and tunnels providing the bears with shade and protection from bad weather.

To go from living solitary to living social shows the ability of the bear to adapt its behaviour based on changes to its environment.

Contrary to popular belief, the solitary bear is not SO solitary.