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Marineland Canada Court Proceedings Dropped


December 21, 2022: The Crown Attorney dropped the criminal proceedings against Marineland Canada after the Niagara Regional Police Service charged the facility in December 2021 of violating provisions of the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act. Based on an undercover investigation and video footage of entertainment performances using cetaceans done by LCA in August 2021, law enforcement criminally charged Marineland with the unauthorized use of whales and dolphins in entertainment performances. READ THE PRESS RELEASE HERE.

After almost a year of delays and 10 court appearances, the Crown Attorney, Michal Sokolski, reported there was a significant backlog of cases due to COVID-19 and it was not in the interest of justice to take this matter to trial. Sokolski also indicated the court needs to give priority to cases deemed "serious."

LCA is outraged by this decision from the Crown, which is a miscarriage of justice for the animals. Video evidence does not lie and proves Marineland continued to use dolphins and whales in performances to entertain guests, despite being rendered illegal under the 2019 law, the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act. LCA has urged the Crown to reverse their decision and hold Marineland accountable under the ActMarineland is not above the law.

Marineland Canada is home to captive dolphins and the largest population of Beluga whales in North America. In 2016, LCA conducted a five-month undercover investigation into Marineland Canada, which revealed disturbing inadequacies regarding the care of the whales. WATCH THE INVESTIGATION VIDEO HERE.



Urge the Canadian Government to hold Marineland Canada accountable for failing its animals. Also urge Marineland Canada for transparency in regards the health of the animals, as well as what the future holds for the animals.  



August 30, 2023 - Lolita Could Have Survived in Freedom - Miami Herald Op-ED by Chris DeRose

LCA's Founder and President Chris DeRose writes about Lolita in an op-ed for the Miami Herald. Lolita, the beloved orca whale, died on August 18, 2023. "For more than half a century, Lolita captured from Washington's Puget Sound in 1970, was a tourist attraction at the Miami Seaquarium for 53 years." READ THE OP-ED HERE.


August 18, 2023 - Lolita, the Lone Orca at Miami Seaquarium, Dies

Lolita died at the Miami Seaquarium on August 18, 2023, after over 50 years in captivity. She was one of the oldest orcas in captivity. Animal activists have been fighting for her freedom for decades. In 1970, Lolita was part of a large capture of whales in the Puget Sound area near Seattle, Washington. In 1980, at the Seaquarium, Lolita lost her mate Hugo, due to a brain aneurysm he suffered after repeatedly ramming his head into his tank.


May 27, 2023 - Miami Seaquarium Protest

Accompanying the protestors at the Miami Seaquarium was a large mobile video truck. The truck circled the park for 8 hours showing the animals and the conditions at the Seaquarium.

The Miami Seaquarium holds Lolita, a 57-year-old orca. She has lived in captivity at the Seaquarium for over 50 years in a tank 80 feet by 35 feet and 20 feet deep. The Seaquarium has a history of animal welfare violations. In 2021, a USDA report showed critical issues with the pools and enclosures for the dolphins, seals, and Lolita. The report also showed the animals were fed rotting fish.

Depriving marine mammals of the vast open spaces and social bonds they would have in the wild, and confining them to small, concrete tanks to perform tricks is cruel and unethical.


May 20, 2023 - Marineland Canada Opening Day Protest

A protest was held at Marineland Canada on opening day. Accompanying the protestors was a large mobile video truck that circled the park for 8 hours showing the animals and the conditions at Marineland. The protest was held in honor of Kiska, known as "the loneliest orca in the world," who lived in captivity at Marineland for over 40 years and in complete isolation for 12 of those years. Kiska passed away in April 2023.


May 8, 2023 - Ontario Government Announces the Deaths of a Beluga Whale and Bottlenose Dolphin at Marineland

The Ontario Ministry of Solicitor General announced a Beluga Whale and Bottlenose Dolphin died at Marineland. Marineland has not commented publicly on the deaths. LCA is demanding the Canadian Government hold Marineland Canada legally accountable for failing its animals. Marineland should not be above the law. 


March 10, 2023 - Kiska, the Lone Orca, dies, as Marineland Canada Continues to Fail its Animals

Kiska was known as the "loneliest orca in the world" because she was held in captivity at Marineland Canada for 40 years and had been living in complete isolation since 2011. Kiska was the last captive orca in Canada. During our undercover investigation at Marineland Canada in 2015, LCA's investigator worked with Kiska. It is reprehensible that Kiska met her end trapped in a concrete pool, denied her freedom just so Marineland could turn a profit. Rest in peace, Kiska.


June 29 - 2022 - Chris DeRose Opinion Piece Demading Change for Whales

READ THE OP-ED written by LCA President and Founder Chris DeRose entitled, "Americans need to demand change in the face of senseless whale deaths" was published in the Greenwich Time, a Southwest Connecticut newspaper. The article detailed the tragic final hours of Havok, one of the five Beluga whales LCA fought not to transport to Mystic Aquarium from Marineland Canada and called on U.S. policymakers to enact better protection for Marine Mammals.


February 14 - December 21, 2022 - Marineland Canada's 10 Court Appearances

#10) December 21, 2022 - JUSTICE DENIED! The Marineland Canada court case was dropped by the Crown Attorney. LCA urges the Crown to reconsider and reverse its current course and prosecute Marineland Canada to the fullest extent of the law.

#9) December 7, 2022 - The case continues to stall. Marineland's lawyers have still not been provided with the documents and information they have requested from the Crown that was asked for during the 9/28/2022 court appearance. Marineland is due back in court on 12/21/2022 for receipt of disclosure.

#8) November 9, 2022 - Marineland's lawyers have still not been provided with the documents and information they have requested from the Crown. Marineland is due back in court on 12/7/2022.

#7) September 28, 2022 - The case is stalled. Marineland's lawyers have not been provided with the documents and information they have requested from the Crown. Next court date is 11/9/2022.

#6) August 17, 2022 - No movement on case. Marineland ordered back to court on 9/28/22.

#5) June 29, 2022 - Marineland’s lawyers continue to focus on requests for more documents and information from the Crown Attorney’s office. Marineland ordered back to court on 8/17/2022.

#4) May 18, 2022 - Marineland’s lawyers continue to request more documents and information from the Crown Attorney’s office. Marineland ordered back to court on 6/29/2022.

#3) April 20, 2022 - LCA has provided the police with additional footage, in support of the case, which has been provided to Marineland’s lawyers.  Marineland’s lawyers continue to follow up with the Crown Attorney’s office for more information and was ordered back in court on 5/18/2022.

#2) March 23, 2022 - Marineland criminal lawyer, Scott Fenton, is following up with the Crown's attorney for more information. Marineland ordered back in court on 4/20/2022. The police has asked LCA to provide all investigative evidence in relation to the charges laid against Marineland.

#1) February 14, 2022 - Marineland's first court appearance after LCA legal complaint leads to police to lay charges. Marineland appeared in court represented by criminal lawyer Scott Fenton. Fenton advised he has been retained and is following up on the Crown’s evidence against Marineland. Marineland ordered back to court on 3/23/2022. LCA is urging the Crown attorney to prosecute Marineland Canada to the full extent of the law and to hold them accountable for their actions under the 2019 Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act.


December 13, 2021 - Police Lay Charges Against Marineland Canada after LCA Undercover Investigation and Legal Complaint

The Niagara Regional Police Service announced Marineland Canada has been charged with violating provisions of the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act based on a legal complaint filed by LCA.

The police investigation found that dolphins and whales were used for entertainment performances during the month of August 2021 without being authorized to do so under the Act. Marineland has been ordered to appear at the Robert S.K. Welch Courthouse on February 14, 2022.

LCA is urging the Canadian Government to uphold Canada's historic Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act and ensure proper care for the remaining Beluga whales and dolphins at Marineland Canada. READ PRESS RELEASE HERE.


December 10, 2021 - LCA Undercover Investigation of Marineland Canada and Subsequent Legal Complaint Leads to Police Investigation

LCA’s undercover investigation of Marineland Canada and subsequent legal complaint led to the Ontario Police Department investigating the facilities use of the whales and dolphins in public appearances. LCA filed the complaint based on concerns that Marineland is violating a provision of the 2019 Canadian Bill S-203: Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act which prohibits cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) from being used for entertainment purposes.

“Marineland Canada has continued their shows for the public despite Canada passing a law in 2019 prohibiting the use of whales and dolphins for entertainment,” said Chris DeRose, Founder and President of LCA. “Requiring the whales and dolphins to continue performing is a despicable practice that must be stopped, which we were under the impression was the intention of the law. The Ontario police department should be commended for taking the findings of LCA’s investigation seriously.”

Marineland Canada should provide greater transparency about the health of their marine animals. LCA’s undercover investigations have exposed shocking abuse and neglect at the controversial theme park. LCA’s documentation of inadequate housing, treatment, and care of the animals was instrumental in the passage of the 2019 Canadian Bill S-203: Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, which outlawed the keeping, breeding, and capture of cetaceans and prohibits using them in entertainment performances. Numerous inquiries have been made in the past as to why Marineland shows continue to go on. Four government entities have confirmed they have not issued a license to Marineland for the shows.

The investigation documented dolphins doing flips, spinning, having a “dolphin dance party” and performing other tricks on command to music in front of a live audience. Beluga whales were also documented being instructed to perform tricks for food in front of park attendees.

The legal complaints were filed with Niagara Regional Police Service that Marineland is in violation of section 445.2(4)* of the Criminal Code, the cruelty to animal provisions about the use of captive whales and dolphins in shows for entertainment purposes. The Ministry of the Solicitor General confirmed to CTV news it “has not issued a license to Marineland that would permit the use of captive cetaceans for performance for entertainment purposes.”

The Green Party of Ontario released a formal statement about the investigation and condemning the use of whales and dolphins for entertainment, “The complaints that Marineland violated the criminal code with whale and dolphin shows are deeply distressing. Ontario Greens have consistently called for the captivity of whales and dolphins to end. Marine mammals should not be used for entertainment. End of story.”


 *445.2(4): Every person commits an offence who promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money for or takes part in any meeting, competition, exhibition, pastime, practice, display or event at or in the course of which captive cetaceans are used, in Canada, for performance for entertainment purposes, unless the performance is authorized under a license issued by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of a province or by an authority in the province as may be specified by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.


May 14, 2021 - Canada Allows the Unethical Export of Five Beluga Whales to Mystic Aquarium in the U.S. Despite Protections Under Canadian Law

Despite efforts of LCA and the animal community both in the U.S. and Canada, five Beluga whales were exported from Marineland Canada in Niagara Falls, ON, on 5/14/21 and arrived at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT on 5/15/21. The Beluga whales endured a grueling journey that was over 22 hours long, including a two-hour flight to Connecticut. Already, Mystic Aquarium has stated their intention to breed the Beluga whales. In a Boston Globe article, a spokesperson for Mystic acknowledged they eventually want to allow the Beluga whales to breed naturally. 

LCA condemns the decision made by the Hon. Bernadette Jordan, Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans at the time, to approve Marineland's request for an export permit and believes the Canadian Government failed to extend the protections of the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act to the exported Beluga whales. By issuing the export permit, the Canadian Government is sending these Beluga whales to become research subjects with an unknown future most likely destined to further exploitation.


May 12, 2021 - Marineland Canada Prepares Belugas for Transfer Despite Protection Under Canadian Law

LCA learned the Hon. Bernadette Jordan, Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans at the time, quietly approved an export permit requested by Marineland Canada to transfer 5 Beluga whales to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, U.S. LCA calls on the Canadian Government to halt the transfer, rescind the permit and ensure all 5 whales will be protected from export.

Reports indicate that a team of staff from Mystic Aquarium are currently on site at Marineland preparing the whales for export to Mystic. The Mystic team did not have to comply with the mandatory 2-week COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, as typically required by the Canadian Government.  The Beluga whales will be forced to endure a traumatic 10-hour journey from Marineland Canada to Mystic Aquarium.

Neither the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) nor Minister Jordan had publicly issued a statement announcing the export permit was granted to Marineland Canada. Despite several opportunities for Minister Jordan to make her stance known, the permit was issued in secrecy, out of public view and scrutiny.  LCA condemns the complete lack of tranpanrency in this process and called for the immediate public release of the export permit and supporting documentation.

LCA also called upon Minister Jordan to uphold the intention of the historic Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act which was passed in 2019.  Under the Act, captive breeding and entertainment performances involving Beluga whales are prohibited in Canada. The U.S. does not have a similar law, and although breeding and entertainment performances are prohibited under the U.S. import permit issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the permit expires in 5 years, and leaves the whales vulnerable to breeding, further export and being used in entertainment performances thereafter.

"Minister Jordan and the DFO have undermined the public trust.  Transferring the whales outside of protections of Canadian law is unacceptable.  The transfer is being rushed, carried out in complete secrecy and is not in the best interest of the Belugas," stated Chris DeRose, LCA President & Founder. READ THE PRESS RELEASE HERE.


April 2021 - Marineland Canada Plans Export of 5 Beluga Whales to the United States Despite Protections Under Canada Law

LCA worked to stop the export of 5 Beluga whales: Sahara, Jetta, Kharabali, Havok and Havana from Marineland Canada to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. For the export to occur, an import permit needs to be granted by the U.S. governments' National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and an export permit needs to be granted by Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan.

The NMFS issued the import permit to Mystic Aquarium; it is valid until August 31, 2025. LCA and Friends of Animals plan to appeal the U.S. decision.

The Canadian government has not yet decided whether it will issue the export permit that would allow Marineland to export the whales. LCA is asking the Hon. Bernadette Jordan to deny the export permit.

Both Marineland and Mystic have filed for their respective permits under the guise of scientific research. Under the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, the export permit can be issued if it is for the purpose of conducting scientific research or keeping the cetacean in captivity if it is in the best interests of the cetaceans' welfare.

In the original permit application to the NMFS, Mystic proposed Study 7, which was a "Behavioral and Reproduction Study"; however, NMFS denied this study. Mystic removed the study from their application and had to submit a Breeding Prevention Plan that outlined how Mystic would prevent the whales from breeding for the duration of the import permit. However, the permit terms only last for 5 years, leaving the whales vulnerable to breeding thereafter. READ THE PRESS RELEASE HERE.



5 Reasons Why LCA is Opposing the Export of Beluga Whales

1) Canada has Enacted a Historic Animal Protection Law for Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises (Cetaceans)

In July 2019, Canada passed the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, (formerly Bill S203) into law, which signifies Canada's commitment to permanently phase out the cycle of cetaceans in captivity. The Act reflects positive steps by the Canadian Government to recognize the intelligence of these magnificent creatures and recognizes the harmful effects of captivity. The Act prohibits the breeding of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, using them in performances for entertainment purposes and restricts importing and exporting them.

2) Exporting the Beluga Whales Outside of Canada Would Remove the Protections of the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act 

Exporting the Beluga Whales to Mystic Aquarium would remove them from the protections of Canadian law and leave them vulnerable to breeding and being used for entertainment performances. Although these are prohibited under the import permit issued by the NMFS, the permit is only valid for 5 years.

3) The Transport and Relocation is Harmful and Potentially Fatal

The journey from Marineland to Mystic Aquarium would take a minimum of 10 hours in the best-case scenario. For the Beluga whales to be exported, they would need to be captured, hoisted out of their tanks with cranes, transported on trucks, wait to board their aircraft, fly to Connecticut, be unloaded from the plane, and transported again by truck to Mystic Aquarium. Studies have documented increased stress levels when captive cetaceans have been transported, and it would create stress for both the Beluga whales being exported from Marineland and the Beluga whales already living at Mystic, to redefine and create new social bonds. In some cases, the whales never fully recover from the stress of transport and social upheaval, which can lead to fatality.

4) The Export Could Set a Dangerous Precedent for the Remaining 46 Beluga Whales at Marineland Canada

By allowing Marineland Canada to export the 5 Beluga whales, it would set a dangerous precedent to allow for the export of other whales at Marineland to countries with weaker animal protection laws. 

5) Exporting the Beluga Whales Outside of Canada Would Not be in Line with the Intention of the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act 

Exporting the whales would allow the cycle of captive breeding to perpetuate, making way for new generations of captive whales - the very practice that Canada recently banned.


March 2021 - Beluga Whale Import Permit Issued to Mystic Acquarium Despite Beluga Protections Under Canada Law

The lawsuit challenges NMFS's decision to issue the import permit on the basis that the permit did not comply with the requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

LCA and FoA are of the view that NMFS failed to comply with the MMPA because the agency did not impose the heightened scrutiny on the permit issuing process that is required when dealing with depleted stock marine mammals such as those at issue in this case. The Beluga's being imported from Marineland had at least one parent that was considered depleted stock. The MMPA was put into place to protect certain species and populations of marine mammals who are, or may be, in danger of extinction or depletion as a result of man's activities (depleted stock marine mammals) and it is the view of LCA and FoA that the NMFS failed to do that in this case. LCA and FoA are also of the view that NMFS failed to comply with NEPA because it failed to consider all significant aspects of the environmental impact of the transfer when completing its environmental assessment.

While LCA was preparing to appeal the U.S. court's decision, the Canadian government issued the export permit allowing Mystic Aquarium to import the Belugas to their Connecticut facility.

LCA instated round-the-clock surveillance to monitor and document the transfer of the Belugas, to ensure that any issues with their transportation would be captured on film. LCA further called out the Canadian government and has been taking steps to demand that such a transfer never be permitted again.


January 2021 - LCA Joins Lawsuit to Stop Marineland Canada Beluga Import into the United States

LCA joined a lawsuit launched by Friends of Animals (FoA), an international animal advocacy organization, against the NMFS to challenge the import permit issued by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). LCA joined the lawsuit as co-plaintiff. READ PRESS RELEASE HERE.

The suit, entitled Friends of Animals and Last Chance for Animals v. Gina Raimondo and National Marine Fisheries Service was filed at the United States District Court, District of Connecticut (Case file number: No. 3:20-cv-01312-AWT), and was brought to court in March 2021. 


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