By Ric O’Barry
Last week in Canada, I had meetings and a press conference (see video below) in Parliament and then attended a wonderful demonstration against Marineland, one of the worst dolphinariums in North America. As many as 800 people attended the rally to close down Marineland due to the harsh and negligent treatment of animals.
So, it was with some anticipation today that we heard new regulations were being proposed by Provincial Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur.
But the regulations are a complete dud! They are so bad, they have been endorsed by Marineland in a statement.
The proposed regulations would only take existing measures and existing enforcement, which have not helped at all, and try to improve on them. But the improvements are extremely vague. We believe they are simply trying to set up a rubber stamp system for approving Marineland’s continued existence. The enforcement would continue to rely on people who have no expertise in keeping marine mammals in captivity and who, subsequently, have allowed Marineland to continue operations despite existing laws.
The proposed regulations are also likely calculated to undercut the efforts of Parliament member Cheri DiNovo, who addressed the crowd on Sunday, expressing her interest in submitting meaningful new legislation to curtail the harm being done at Marineland.
Marineland Animal Defense (MAD), which organized last Sunday’s massive demonstration, issued a statement that said in part:
“We find the announcement today to be just a further continuation of the ‘crocodile tears’ that Minister Madeleine Meilleur has been crying from the beginning. Do not mistake her supposed anguish for serious conviction. In her press conference Minister Madeleine Meilleur repeated that parks like Marineland are educational and that ‘we all like to go to places like Marineland’ – an absurd statement made even more outrageous after more people demonstrated against the park this past Sunday than entered.”
Clearly, Marineland has strong political ties, and their government cronies are trying to help them out by proposing weak regulations that in fact will allow Marineland to remain open.
I had hoped that Minister Meilleur would take a different and better approach to the problems at Marineland, but I have been disappointed.
Phil Demers, the Marineland ex-trainer who has led efforts to fix the problems at Marineland, nailed the proposed regulations in stating: “What is needed NOW is MORE pressure to enact the current enforceable laws within the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s jurisdiction. I believe a demonstration outside Queen’s Park is the next feasible step until Marineland inevitably makes it’s way back on the front pages of National news, on account of more incidents of abuse or by the acquisition of new wild animals.”
So, get active and stay active – we need to show Marineland and the local government that we will not accept their weak-kneed effort to sweep the problem under the rug again (as they have done in the past).
To learn how you can help: Visit www.marinelandanimaldefense.com
Sign the petition on change.org – http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/save-marineland-s-animals (Minister DiNovo has promised to deliver this petition, weekly, as numbers continue to increase. It has just over 81,000 signatures now.)
Ric O’Barry with Rob Laidlaw of Zoocheck Canada Press Conference (Oct. 5, 2012):