Toronto, 6/24/18: Dolphin Project can confirm that Marineland Canada owner John Holer is dead. According to multiple sources including Niagara Falls Council Member Wayne Thomson, Holer died at home on Saturday, June 23. The cause of death has not yet been released.
Holer was born in 1935 in the former Yugoslavia. He immigrated to Canada in 1957 looking for work in his profession as a wine chemist, but a language barrier prevented him from finding a job. Four years later in 1961, Holer leased a small plot of land on Marineland’s current location in Niagara Falls. He built two water tanks, bought three seals and Marineland was conceived.
From these beginnings, Marineland expanded over the years into a multi-million dollar industry, their captive animal displays including orcas, bottlenose dolphins, beluga whales, walruses, sea lions, deer, bears, tigers, fish and other animals.
Only two facilities remain in Canada that keep dolphins captive: Marineland and the Vancouver Aquarium, with the latter voluntarily banning cetacean captivity. The country’s only captive orca, Kiska, remains in solitary confinement at the Niagara Falls park. But this could all change, with the introduction of Bill S-203 – Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act.
For decades, Ric O’Barry has vigorously supported local efforts in Ontario to bring awareness to the plight of captive marine mammals. Dolphin Project has thrown its support behind this bill, urging politicians to vote on legislation that would effectively end cetacean captivity across the country.
For now, our concern lies with all of Marineland’s captive animals. What provisions have been put in place for them? Ideally, they would be retired into their natural habitats, where they could live out their lives in peace and dignity.
Featured image: Bottlenose dolphin, ‘Duke’, Marineland Canada, Cara Sands