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Marineland protests draw government response

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Marineland
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After major complaints about care of animals and mammals in Marineland in Niagara Falls, the Ontario provincial government is taking a look at animal care and supervision in zoos and aquariums.

The government says Ontario has the strongest animal care rules in Canada, under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

But the minister for Community Safety and Correctional Services wants to know if the rules are good enough, especially for marine mammals like those at Marineland.

Madeileine Meilleur said the province may start licensing zoos and aquariums after a review by public and private individuals of the current rules makes its recommendations.

According to Meilleur, recent complaints from a former Marineland employee sparked a review of operations.

"Our OSPCA went in and did the investigation, (still) there was some question about should we develop a standard of care for these animals."

Meilleur says she and her children have been to zoos and aquariums but never to Marineland although she will be visiting soon.

On October 3, 2012 Marineland issued the following statement regarding Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) findings:  

Marineland welcomed and has been fully supportive of CAZA's investigation. CAZA has stated, "The cooperation of all of the [Marineland] staff in responding to the committee's questions and making the facility available for their inspection was excellent".

While the way these issues were raised through the media was very difficult and personally upsetting for many of us here at Marineland and for the public, our primary concern continues to be providing a safe and healthy environment for our animals and a welcoming one for our guests.

As CAZA will continue periodic inspections of our facilities and until the OSPCA has concluded its investigation, we are refraining from making additional comments on these matters.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.