by Barry Kent MacKay,
Senior Program Associate
Born Free USA’s Canadian Representative
Bottom: Animals at Marineland struggle to find shade from the blazing hot sun during heatwave.
My last two blogs were accompanied by photographs of animals I saw imprisoned at Marineland, Niagara Falls, Ontario, when I went there with Zoocheck’s Rob Laidlaw last July 5th, during a blistering heat wave. The harbor seals were not affected by record temperatures, being in a small pool in a cool interior, but at no time when we observed them did they open their eyes, an unnatural condition as verified by an expert on seal eyes, not to mention all memories I have of wild harbor seals with their soulfully bulbous eyes wide open. There have been concerns raised about the effects of chlorine on eyes and I thought I could smell chlorine, but whatever the reason, seeing the animals so confined, eyes tightly shut, certainly depressed me.
But, no more so than conditions out in open paddocks where there waslittle or no shade for numbers of large, hoofed herbivores, and water only appearing to be available in containers about the size of a bucket or pail.
On August 8, I received an email from Stephanie Littlejohn, Law Clerk, Hunt Partners LLP, a Toronto-based law firm calling itself “a unique blend of corporate and civil advocacy” consisting of “recognized litigation leaders and trusted advisors.” Ms. Littlejohn wrote: “Please find attached a Notice of Trespass for Marineland of Canada (Inc.), which is being served upon you.”
The notice prohibited me from entering Marineland’s property “At any time for any reason whatsoever” under the Trespass to Property Act. “I got one too,” laughed Rob, when I called to tell him.
Doubtless, Ms. Littlejohn and her colleagues are very professional corporate and civil advocates. Their opinions on animal welfare may differ from their client’s. Ms. Littlejohn might never even have been to Marineland or know much about animal husbandry. But, Rob’s and my expertise includes animal welfare and we both passionately care about animals. Whether any others care about animals with only pots of water and little or no shade in searing heat, or seals with eyes tightly shut, Rob and I do care how animals are treated.
Ironically, I actually don’t want to ever visit Marineland. I was so depressed by my first time there that I avoided the place for 37 years, only returning to see an exhibit that had been falsely advertised; it wasn’t there. Having paid admission, Rob and I looked at the other animals. I’m happy to wait another 37 years, by which time Ms. Littlejohn will probably be a retired lawyer and I’ll be long gone.
For now, I would gladly pay the maximum trespass fine of two thousand bucks if I thought it would eliminate my concerns, or better yet, that Marineland simply had no animals for me to worry about. If Ms. Littlejohn, Hunt Partners LLP, and Marineland want to keep me out, just eliminate the concerns I addressed &ndahs; or better yet, stop imprisoning animals – and I promise to never again cross Marineland’s doorstep. Honest.