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update Page Updated: August 16, 2002
Source: Julie Woodyer - Zoocheck - Canada

The following is an alert that I received from my friend Julie Woodyer from Zoocheck Canada requesting letters regarding the death of Algonquin. Julie is always on top of anything that goes on with Slumzoo and will continue to keep us posted as reports come out. Thanks Julie and keep up the great work!


Algonquin, the 3 year old son of Nootka died this morning at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Canada. The results of the necropsy are supposed to be released tomorrow, we will update you all as we know more.

In case you are keeping track, that is 10 cetaceans who have died at Marineland in the past five years bringing the grand total to 38. In addition, there were a number of dolphins not on display earlier this summer, this can mean one of 2 things: either they are locked in the warehouse pool or they are dead.

In a media article dated July 6, 2002 it was reported that "the Russian government is offering hunters the chance to capture and sell orcas into captivity for $ 1,000,000 a head." The article went on to list Canada as one of 3 countries identified as potential buyers including the USA (which of course is not an option for wild caught animals). Marineland imported 6 black sea dolphins in 2000 and another 4 in 2001 as well as 12 belugas in 1999 and another 2 in 2000. That is 24 wild whales captured in Russia and sent to Marineland in the last 3 years. This recent death will surely cause John Holer (owner of ML) to be calling his buddies in Russia and ordering some new slaves for his collection.

It would be very helpful if people could write to Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and ask him to implement an immediate moratorium on the import and export of cetaceans in Canada.

Please send your letters to:

  • The Honourable Robert G. Thibault
    Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    House of Commons
    Parliament Buildings,
    Wellington Street
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A6

    Overcrowding At Marineland
    Ottawa Rejected Beluga Capture

    - October 2, 2000
    By: Ross Longbottom - The Hamilton Spectator


    - One Of The Marineland Belugas

    Trainer Katie Morrissette feeds fish to a beluga whale at Marineland in Niagara Falls yesterday. Marineland recently obtained 12 wild belugas from Russia, after being denied permission to capture whales in Canada. Two have since died.

    The federal government doubted that Marineland of Niagara Falls had the facilities or knowledge to care for the six beluga whales it asked  permission to capture in Hudson Bay. Marineland eventually went to Russia and obtained 12 whales, two of which have died.

    Documents obtained by The Hamilton Spectator under freedom of information legislation show that John Holer, the president and owner of Marineland of Canada Inc., tried several times to get government permission to capture whales in Canadian waters but was rejected.

    Documents show the Department of Fisheries and Oceans had several concerns, including:

  • Marineland had no one who knew how to care for belugas.
  • The belugas might be stressed by being kept near killer whales.
  • The size of the tanks might be inadequate.
  • There was little "educational" value to the capture.
  • Marineland had no records of other animals that had apparently died.  (Autopsy results on one beluga shows it died as a result of a parasite that  infected its liver, probably while still in the wild, Marineland says.

    The  other result is not yet available). The department of Fisheries and Oceans also said it was not in favour of continuing the live capture of whales, there had been no live captures since 1992, and they are only allowed with the minister's permission.

    Last week, Marineland announced it has bought six bottlenose dolphins from Russia, raising concerns again about Canada's lack of legislation on the importation of marine mammals. Any marine animal not on an endangered species list can be brought into Canada as long as the country it is coming from issues an export permit. The Ontario Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducts inspections and animals must be quarantined for a time once here.

    Meanwhile, 1999 recommendations for a moratorium on live whale captures in Canada and import and export permits lingers in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa.

    Dr. Jon Lien of Memorial University in Newfoundland says rules and regulations would help the federal department to do its work, and help people like Holer, who, according to FOI documents, didn't know exactly what was required to get a capture permit. Holer was not available for comment.

    Holer made several revisions to his application in an effort to meet department demands. But he could not satisfy them, despite a glowing report from U.S. consultant Dr. Jo Ann Garbe, whom Marineland asked to assess the facility.

    "I applaud the work of this institution in its efforts to meet the requirements of the U.S. and Animal Welfare Act Standards," she wrote. "Marineland of Canada Inc., has made a commitment to providing its cetacean residents with an environment and quality of care that meets the standards outlined in the provisions of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations."

    However, documents reveal the more Marineland tried to appease the department, the more questions arose about how it operates. When the government asked for more information on Marineland animals they noticed were missing, they were shocked to learn they couldn't get the information.

    The department wrote: "What happened to the others? Also, what was the cause of death of the orca calf born recently? Have other orcas been held and lost in the past? Have other species been held and lost?"

    Marineland wrote back apologetically: "We have conducted a search of our files for autopsy reports, records, etc., and none exist. At the time there was never a need to have such reports. However, we are implementing the necessary recordkeeping ..."

    Max Stanfield, director of the federal Fisheries and Oceans management group, stands by those concerns. He adds, however, there needs to be more regulation regarding marine mammal import, and guidelines for care.

    Stanfield wrote a colleague: "It seems that the easiest out is to declare a moratorium and talk about standards, which seems to take us into an area where we have little jurisdiction ... (and) It seems to me to be a little inconsistent to worry only about our mammals and not imported Russian ones."

    Dr. Lien's report recommends ending any live beluga captures in Canada for exhibition, and rules for importing marine mammals. His report is likely be to endorsed soon, Stanfield said.

    Marineland spokesperson Ann Marie Rondinelli said the park believes their operation is excellent and meets the concerns expressed by Ottawa.

    Marineland's latest acquisition will not overcrowd the particular tank, and their health is being closely monitored, Holer notes in a press release.

    "Dr. Larry Cornell, one of the world's leading marine mammal experts and a regular consultant to Marineland, will work closely with Marineland's regular veterinary and marine mammal care staff."

    Zoocheck Canada director Rob Laidlaw says Canada needs to endorse the report by Dr. Lien. "There's been about five different studies on this. It's sitting on a shelf. They will not act on it."

    Stanfield said it's unlikely the department or government will ban the importation of anything in the whale family, including dolphins and belugas, because they are not endangered species.

    But Laidlaw said it doesn't make sense that you can bring a one-tonne whale into Canada so easily. "It's harder to import electrical equipment."