Marine mammals deserve better

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Marineland is an animal theme park near Niagara Falls. They’ve just lost a trainer because he was no longer willing to work under conditions that wouldn’t allow him to give animals the care he felt they deserved:

Zoos are not inherently bad. Some animal rights activists believe they are, but I don’t. However, the standards a zoo needs to meet to be a good facility should be high. Many zoos, maybe most, don’t meet that standard.

The last time I was at Marineland, I recall a black bear exhibit. I will fully acknowledge memory can play tricks on you, but here’s what I remember: a wide, mostly featureless brown hillside leading down into a moat. Lots of bears. Food visitors could purchase from a kiosk. And I swear, one of the items I remember was marshmallows, which visitors were welcome to throw to the bears. Some bears sat back on their haunches, batting the sweets out of the air, while others stood upright in the moat, up against the concrete wall at the feet of the spectators, waiting for a morsel to be dropped into their mouths.

Honestly, it sounds unbelievable recounting it now. And this was in the late 1990s, not the unenlightened 70s.

They had large marine mammals performing tricks for the audience – giant, smart animals in oversized fish tanks. According to a Star article, Zoocheck Canada says Marineland has had 16 killer whales and 10 belugas die over the years:

Marine parks are bad news in other places, too. Visited this marine park in Japan:

The walruses they kept were a sickly shade of yellow-green. If my recollection is correct, they had no access to the outdoors. At the end of the tour, you arrived at a big fast food concourse where you could rent a rod and reel and fish! Admire the beautiful sea creatures, then eat them. A bizarre disconnect for me.

I like the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park, although I’d like to see a larger enclosure for the cougar(s). I think I’ll be visiting the Magnetic Hill zoo in the near future. I’ve heard mixed reports. I’ll be disappointed if I pay my entry fee – support the business – then discover its substandard. 

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