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.

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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.

Do You Know How Playful Walruses Are?

Dan Macdonald, a marine mammal caregiver at Marineland explains, “A lot of the behind the scene care for walruses is play.”

Walruses are social and love to play together. They have even more fun if toys are incorporated. Now, what toys does a walrus like? Balls, huge logs and icebergs are the current favourites!

The walruses have their own community and can be selective about whom they want to spend time with. For example, Dan Macdonald explains, “Sonja really likes to live and be with Buttercup. So, when we get a chance to, we make sure they get to spend as much time as possible with each other.”

Now isn’t that cute? Check out the video here:

Getting to Know Kiska

Kiska gets a lot of attention from her marine mammal caregiver, Tali. Kiska gets between one to four sessions per hour with Tali, or one of her other marine mammal caregivers.

Tali explains that Kiska is not very interested in high-energy behaviours, like jumps. But, she loves to be rubbed with hands or brushes!

Check out the video to see Kiska getting an enjoyable belly rub:

Same family but distinctly their own

Noting the difference between sea lions and seals

Sea lions are often mistaken for seals. The experts here at Marineland can help you identify the difference. Any of our trainers would explain that even though both mammals belong to the family of pinnipeds, meaning “fin footed”, there are points of distinction between the two. These differences include their fins, flippers, ears and voices.

Seals have small front flippers and large, trailing hind flippers, making them agile in the water where they spend most of their time. These flippers are useless for movement on land; seals inch along similar to the way a caterpillar would move.

On the other fin, sea lions have large front flippers and small hind flippers that bend forward. The sea lions flippers allow them to “walk” on land on all fours; this ease of movement means they spend more time on land than seals.

Another visible difference – their ears.  Seals have pinhole openings located on the sides of their heads.  Sea lions have small, external ear flaps that stick out on either side.

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California Sea Lion

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Harbour Seal

Sea lions are very vocal – in fact, they can be downright noisy.  Seals are much quieter emitting soft, low grunts as opposed to the sea lion’s loud bark.

With this knowledge, the next time you are seated at the King Waldorf Stadium and your friend, a first-timer to Marineland, says, “Aren’t those seals adorable?” You’ll respond, “Those are sea lions. We’ll visit the Aquarium Dome where we can see the cutest seals!”

Accentuate the Positive…

 A look at Positive Reinforcement Reward System

 

After presentations, Marineland trainers love answering guest’s questions. The most common is, “how do you train your marine mammals?”

The trainers use a healthy and successful training technique called Positive Reinforcement Reward System.  This system respects the animal by using positive reinforcement, it never allows for punishment.

How does the positive reinforcement reward system work?

Every time an animal performs a behavior correctly the trainer blows a whistle signaling a perfect performance and the animal is rewarded. The animal is never punished for performing a behavior incorrectly; the trainer simply repeats the cue to encourage the animal to try again.

What rewards are used for positive reinforcement?

The reinforcement can be food, a tongue tickle, a back scratch, a belly rub or playtime where large rings and balls are placed in the pool.  While food is a reinforcement used, it is important to note that the animals receive all the food that they require to meet their dietary needs whether they perform the requested behavior or not.

 

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A walrus getting a well-deserved back scratch

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A beluga enjoying playtime with a ball

What types of behaviours do the animals learn?

The trainers teach the animals a variety of behaviours like waving hello or crunching out a few sit-ups. But, there is another important set of behaviours the animals perform called “husbandry” behaviours. These actions help our veterinarians and marine mammal staff to monitor and maintain the health of the animals.

How long does training take?

Basic behaviours require a few months of training, elaborate behaviours require about two years of training. The process helps keep the animals mentally sharp and physically fit. Some learn faster than others and each animal has a unique style.

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A beluga and trainer working together

Marine Mammal Enrichment

Enriching the lives of our marine mammals is an integral part of animal care at Marineland and is as important as the nutrition and medical care that they receive. The act of providing stimulating and challenging environments, toys and activities for the animals is called enrichment. The benefits to the animals are many and include, but are not limited to, mental stimulation, physical activity and promotion of the animal’s natural behaviours like exploring, foraging and diving.

Ice Toy 1Ice Toy 3Ice Toy 2Generally, we divide enrichment into two main types: Environmental Enrichment Devices (EED) like toys, balls and brushes and Environmental Enrichment Activities (EEA) like giving a whale a full body water massage with a sprayer hose or playing peek-a-boo at the underwater glass. Who knew aluminum foil could be used like this!

Peek-A-Boo 1Smooshi PeekingSonja & Joce 2Sonja & Joce 1Sometimes, enrichment can actually be both a device and an activity – such as using a long-handled brush (a device) to rub the pectoral fins of a whale (an activity). Even feeding, training or husbandry procedures are viewed as enrichment activities and are treated in that manner so that we can make such activities exciting and stimulating for the animal.

Within each species there are wide ranges of individual preferences on what an animal enjoys, just like humans. Our caregivers devote a great deal of time and effort to get to know individual animals’ preferences in order to create activities and design devices that will engage and enthrall an animal.

When deciding if an EEA or EED is acceptable to use, the safety of the animal is paramount. In the case of EEDs several criteria need to be considered. Does the object have any rough edges? Is it sturdy enough to withstand salt, cold temperatures or the pounding from a 4,500 kg animal? Is it made of safe material? All of these questions and more are taken into account by our marine mammal care team. Marineland has an enrichment craftsman in our carpenter shop who can work with our marine mammal care team to design and build various EEDs as in some cases a suitable device just can’t be found at a store.

Enhancing the lives of the animals in our care is our top priority and enrichment plays a key role in helping us achieve that goal.

What’s On The Menu?

Well, anything from herring to hay. Marineland provides wholesome, nutritious and palatable foods to all of our animals under the expert direction of our veterinary staff.

All of our marine mammals are fed restaurant quality herring, capelin and squid. In fact, you could take some home, cook it up and have it for dinner.

fishOur black bears receive a balanced diet of fish, fresh fruits, meats and vegetables. Yum!

Our deer, bison and elk dine only on hay that is of top quality. How much hay? Would you believe 110 bales per day?

For members of our deer family, hay is fed in conjunction with grains such as oats, corn and barley.

 

DIGITAL JOURNAL STATEMENT OF RETRACTION – MARINELAND OF CANADA – KISKA

Marineland is pleased to announce that the Digital Journal has today formally retracted the article it published on July 28, 2014 regarding the health and care of Kiska, Marineland’s killer whale.  The complete text of the retraction appears below:

Digital Journal published an on-line article on July 28, 2014 by Elizabeth Batt, “Killer whale at Marineland appears to be ailing” in which Ms. Batt reported allegations about Kiska, the Killer Whale. Upon further review of the allegations contained in the Article, Digital Journal retracts the Article in its entirety.

The article failed to reference a number of publicly available, independent investigations into Kiska’s health. Specifically, the article failed to mention that Kiska’s health and care has been thoroughly reviewed with the full zoo inspection team of the OSPCA, and experts from CAZA, and that no issues of concern with Kiska’s health were noted. The zoo inspection team of the OSPCA has since inspected Kiska following the allegations in the article as recently as October of this year, and again found no issues of concern with Kiska’s health. Marineland has subsequently communicated to Digital Journal that: (i) Kiska is healthy and well cared for at Marineland, (ii) Kiska lives in the largest pool housing a Killer Whale in the world, (iii) all of the water in Kiska’s pool is filtered and exchanged every three hours through an advanced computerized water filtration system, and (iv) that the water system has been independently reviewed and approved by Stantec, recognized experts in water filtration systems.

Marineland has further communicated to Digital Journal that: (i) Kiska’s health is monitored daily by experienced staff and professionals and that she receives excellent medical care from highly qualified and experienced veterinarians, including expert medical consultants, (ii) Kiska receives a healthy diet of high quality fish and her appetite is healthy, as is her weight, and (iii) Kiska’s teeth are in good condition for her advanced age and she receives a preventative “rinse” daily.

Digital Journal prides itself on its high standards of journalism and regrets that they were not met in this isolated case. Digital Journal apologizes unreservedly to Marineland.