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OSPCA completes Marineland investigation

Tourists line up at a viewing area to see  two Marineland attractions, a Killer Whale calf swimnming with its mother and a small pod of Beluga Whales in Niagara Falls, Ont. on Wednesday July 18, 2001.
Tourists line up at a viewing area to see two Marineland attractions, a Killer Whale calf swimnming with its mother and a small pod of Beluga Whales in Niagara Falls, Ont. on Wednesday July 18, 2001. Scott Dunlop/CP

TORONTO – The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) has completed an investigation into Marineland stemming from a series of newspaper articles written about the amusement park’s alleged treatment of animals.

The OSPCA has said the Niagara Falls amusement park has complied with all orders issued as part of the agency’s investigation into the allegations.

As such, the investigation has been closed.

According to the St. Catharines Standard, the OSPCA issued six orders that have now been revoked:

Examine marine mammal’s marks: Revoked Feb. 4
Repair back-stage lighting, ceiling: Revoked Feb. 19
Examine marine mammals’ eyes: Revoked March 20
Make elk shelter bigger: Revoked March 20
Make red-deer enclosure bigger: Revoked March 20
Stop bears from reproducing: Revoked April 24

The park came under fire after several former employees spoke to reporters from the Toronto Star alleging mistreatment of animals.

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Now, Marineland has launched a $7-million defamation suit against the Toronto Star and two of its reporters for two of the articles the newspaper published.

“Marineland will vigorously defend its reputation and will state that there has been no animal abuse ever,” said John Beattie, a spokesperson for Marineland.

The specific articles were published January 18, 2013 and March 19, 2013.

“We will defend those stories vigorously,” Star spokesperson Bob Hepburn said but added that, to his knowledge, a statement of defence had yet to be filed.

The lawsuit seeks $5-million in general damages and another $2-million in punitive damages.

NOTE: An earlier version of the story cited two OSPCA orders incorrectly.