The Solicitor General’s office charged the Niagara Falls park with three counts of failure to comply with an order on Tuesday. Photo credit: Facebook/Marineland
On Tuesday, May 30, Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General laid charges against Marineland Canada for three counts of allegedly failing to comply with an order related to the care of its black bears.
Ministry spokesperson Brent Ross told media the charges were laid under a section of the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act that allows an inspector to issue an order to help animals that may be in distress.
Marineland responded to the charges on Wednesday, denying any wrongdoing, and acknowledging it had received a summons regarding the care of three black bear cubs “born unexpectedly at the park during Covid-19 due to a birth control failure.”
According to the Niagara Falls facility, “PAWS (Provincial Animal Welfare Services) required that Marineland construct a 10,000-square-foot facility for the bear cubs to exact specifications separate from our bear habitat. We instead opted to release the bears to a sanctuary. The cubs were always under regular veterinary care and were healthy. We understand they remain healthy in their new homes.”
The park, which houses an unknown number of black bears, and has done so for many years, said it appreciates the work PAWS does to protect animals, but doesn’t believe its actions “justify the laying of charges under Ontario’s animal welfare laws.”
Adult male bears are known to maul and kill cubs that are not theirs. Marineland reportedly keeps all of its bears together in a single enclosure with dens and water.
In 2016, Marineland was charged with one count of failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for approximately 35 American black bears, including failing to provide adequate and appropriate food and water.
The Crown later dropped the charges, saying there was no reasonable chance for a conviction.
Prior to that, in 2013 the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) issued an order to Marineland to build separate habitats to protect bear cubs from potentially being mauled and devoured by adult males. Marineland instead agreed to develop a birth control program, which OSPCA agreed was an adequate alternative.
“The park looks forward to the legal process commencing so that we may defend ourselves in court with respect to our conduct and care for the bear cubs.”