Marineland charges

Why Marineland’s Criminal Charge Matters

| December 23, 2021

Marineland has been criminally charged for using its captive dolphins and whales for entertainment services. This comes as welcome news to Toronto Humane Society and other animal welfare organizations, as it represents a new era of accountability for those who exploit animals for profit. 

Forcing captive dolphins and whales to entertain us is a cruel, outdated practice

We have all seen the commercials: smiling dolphins planting a kiss on a child’s cheek; whales bursting out of the water, their large bodies suspended in mid-air for all to see. But what this entertainment conceals is a cruel and outdated practice.

According to World Animal Protection, captive dolphins, far removed from their diverse ocean environment, are “forced to swim in endless circles in artificial habitats,” socialize with other species, and perform behaviors “that are unnatural and, in some cases, painful.”

Whales like Kiska, named the world’s “loneliest orca,” are confined to small, lonely tanks and denied essential aspects of their natural environment, including social bonds with other whales, the ability to make decisions, explore, or migrate.

Other cruel conditions suffered by captive whales and dolphins include poor water qualityexposure to human infection, bacteria, chemicals, and stress-related illnesses.

A new era of accountability

Bill S-203 (Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act) was passed in 2019, making it illegal under the criminal code to use captive dolphins and whales for performance or entertainment purposes.

Toronto Humane Society, along with other animal welfare organizations and activists, celebrated its passing. We were invested in this legislation before it was passed, educating supporters on the issue of marine mammal captivity, and providing people with letter templates and contact information for relevant Members of Parliament.

But it is one thing to pass legislation – it is another to enforce it. That is why Marineland’s criminal charge is such a significant step not just for aquatic mammals, but for all animals who could be protected under animal welfare legislation.

Toronto Humane Society will continue to advocate for animals to ensure those who exploit or abuse them will be held accountable.