The Chickens Come Home To Roost At Marineland…

“Hey did you hear about that Marineland place? We’ve always heard it was a major league rip-off, but now they’re saying they abuse their animals, too. You live here, what do you think about this”

This was how my first call of the day started. I had no idea just what the guest in question was referring to, but I’d heard the statement before; everyone in Niagara Falls has.

English: MarineLand Logo

English: MarineLand Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bear with me, this one is different, but I should have written it years ago. But I stayed the course and wrote about crazy travelers when I should have been a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, at least not in a language we can understand, that is. Most people will tell you they “love animals”, but how many of us have the courage to stand behind those words when it counts?

This week, in my hometown of Niagara Falls, there is only one topic of conversation that is “trending” at the grassroots level; the horrific allegations of abuse leveled against local amusement and animal exhibition park Marineland. For decades, locals like myself have heard countless stories from current and former Marineland employees concerning the horrible operating conditions at one of the city’s most popular attractions. The stories always followed the same trend:

  • All of the animals have been underfed to the point of malnutrition.
  • The sea creatures’ habitats and tanks haven’t been properly maintained.
  • The décor and the general “feel” of the park hasn’t changed or been updated for decades. Seriously, its sad.
  • Staff members feel they have been treated like something the owner found on the bottom of his shoes.

And that’s where Marineland owner John Holer, appears to have made his greatest tactical error; for decades he has treated his staff worse than the animals they care for and they have had enough. They are now speaking out and the mainstream media is finally ready to listen. In short, there is blood in the water and the sharks are circling.

And their numbers are growing by the day.

The Toronto Star was the first news outlet to turn their attention to Marineland – despite the best efforts of animal activists, no one has ever truly shone a bright enough light on Marineland to warrant the full attention of the world – but they will most certainly not be the last.

At this point it is important to stress one fact: THESE ARE UNVERIFIED ALLEGATIONS. No one has proven anything.  However, these allegations have been  floating around the city of decades and NO ONE HAS EVER CARED ENOUGH ABOUT THESE HELPLESS SEA CREATURES TO EVEN INVESTIGATE THEM SERIOUSLY.

I deal with dozens of tourists every day who tell me of their plans to visit Marineland and even though I’ve heard the “major-league rip-off” comment before – and experienced it first-hand as a dad accompanying his child on school trips – I ignored them and eagerly recommended Marineland to hundreds of guest over the years. I was just doing my job.

So why do I feel like a complete and total fool?

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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41 Responses to The Chickens Come Home To Roost At Marineland…

  1. vampirelover17 says:

    My comment is that everyone on your blog should pass this along (reblog this) than maybe we can finally have this hell hole shut down.
    Holer says that he is ‘up to standards’ – I wonder who he has to pay – if you get my meaning….

  2. Hobbles says:

    You are speaking up for them now Hook. That is what counts. Everyone has things that they feel like maybe they should have taken a different stance on, but we can just do what is right when we realize it, you know? Anyway, I’ll reblog.

  3. Hobbles says:

    Reblogged this on Hobbling Around and commented:
    Spreading the word. Thanks to Hook for writing about this.

  4. MysteryCoach says:

    It’s understandable that you would feel bad however as Hobbles is saying, you’re doing something now and many times we just say something because it’s in the area and it’s a response to a question as to what’s to go do in an area…

  5. Anthony says:

    This is a sad story. Hope the law enforces will step in and help.

  6. If people knew how the marine mammals were captured for Sea World, they would be horrified.

  7. Jo Bryant says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with any type of animal park. I understand the concept. People learning to know these animals, empathy is encouraged, research to help the animals survive…and so on, but whenever I visit animal parks…even the good ones…a little part of me aches for these animals. Caged, because they are caged even if we don’t see the bars, and prevented from being what nature intended, prevented from living how nature intended. Man has so many crimes against animals to answer for that it actually makes my heart sore. Thanks for highlighting this. All the animals need our support to just be…

  8. raisingdaisy says:

    How disgraceful. Do you have PETA in Canada? They’d have a field day with this. Good for you, Hook, bringing this out through your blog. A movement against these sick, greedy people needs to be started.

  9. Tessa says:

    Reblogged this on Finally a Writer and commented:
    Just a break in the norm here. A great post on animal rights by The Hook.

  10. Tessa says:

    I just reblogged and shared the link on my FaceBook page. I had never given much thought to the animals in these parks. Thanks for the heads up.

  11. Of course it’s been in the news and Marineland seems to be of course denying accusations and saying the cases that the pictures were taken of are of ‘old’ sea lions etc. I wonder if a ‘real’ investigation will now take place to examine the health of these dear animals and mammals ..Diane

  12. Karmel says:

    Must be educated from childhood to care for nature and animals.
    And try not to get the animals in their natural habitat.
    Very good your post.

    a kiss The Hook

  13. I truly hate Marineland. I remember going there as a kid and slightly enjoying it. But I also remember the colour of the water where the dolphins and whales where. It was dirty, slimy and just ick! I knew at that tender age something was wrong, but I was young and I couldn’t fully understand the abuse the animals were/are receiving.

    I’ve FB-ed and tweeted!

    Are you going to continue to tell clients to go to Marineland? I wouldn’t.

    Great post! And thanks for bringing this to the forefront!

  14. mairedubhtx says:

    As I said in The Book of Terrible, you’ve done a really good thing by bringing this to light.

  15. Woman says:

    Because for decades no one has proven anything and a person or two complaining about something makes most people think “disgruntled employee”.

    You feel like a fool… because as Mary Poppins once said, of people, sometimes we cannot see past the end of our noses.

    I hope sooner rather than later the facilities get check out and surprise inspections take place. Which makes me wonder how much money the number one man has paid out to those that have had to inspect the place over the years.

    Wow. How Chinese are they?

  16. Hope the authorities actually monitor the situation and will move quickly if necessary. These creatures were brought there and deserve to be treated royally …not sacrificed for profit.
    So easy for these places to start well, then over the years silently decline into a horror show.
    Sharing the sadness you feel
    Glad you wrote this post – seems blogging does help get results.
    (Like the Who’s of Whoville? Worked out well for them)

  17. munchow says:

    I hope the truth will one day be proven. It sounds like a very bad place indeed. As has already been pointed out you have taken you stand now. We can all wish we had done more at any given moment. But I think it’s great that you put our attention to the issue now.

    • The Hook says:

      I cannot express how deep my feelings run… There have been protests over the course of the last few days, but I hope some lasting change emerges when the dust settles.

  18. How did I miss this post? It snuck on by without even a whisper… However, not to fret; I’ve found it..!
    We had a similar situation here in Oz at one of the famous ‘horse’ tourist attractions. It eventually was closed however; the individuals who run said establishments (and who generally see only the almighty dollar) continue on with their perverse ways elsewhere if not convicted… I’m so happy though, to see the staff speaking out. Animals need voices….!
    My main purpose in dropping over, my dear Hook, is to tell you that you are one of my top 3 commenters, and, as such, I have awarded you ‘The Reader Appreciation Award’, which you can ‘wink at’ and go about your business of updating tourists regarding the finer aspects of entertaining oneself….
    Good for Chickens who roost…!
    http://abcofspiritalk.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/big-thank-you/

  19. giselzitrone says:

    Hollo lieber Hook Grüsse dich mal Herzlich und wünsche dir eine gute glückliche Woche Gruss Gislinde.

  20. Pingback: #105: When Politicians Shut Off Their Common Sense… | The Book of Terrible

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