Charges tied to alleged ‘unauthorized performances’ at Marineland dropped by Crown

The Crown has dropped charges against Marineland tied to an investigation in which the theme park was accused of using animals for a park performance without authorization.

Charges were laid in late 2021 by Niagara Regional Police following a probe which alleged the Niagara Falls attraction used dolphins and whales for entertainment purposes in August contravening the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act.

Advocacy group Animal Justice filed the complaint over concerns that dolphin and beluga performances at the marine park violated the Criminal Code.

Animal Justice claimed it had obtained video footage of the 2021 performances, featuring pop music and trainers announcing a “dolphin dance party,” with the mammals performing tricks that included “jumping out of the water, spinning in the air, and pushing trainers through the water.”

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Crown prosecutor Michal Sokolski opted to “stay” the charges, deciding it was “not in the public interest” to prosecute.

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Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, called the decision “shocking,” insinuating “animals don’t matter” to the legal system.

“It’s deeply disappointing that there will be no justice for the dolphins used in entertainment shows at Marineland — something our country outlawed in 2019,” Labchuk said in an email to Global News.

“What’s the point of passing new laws to protect animals if prosecutors refuse to accept that animal cruelty is a serious matter of public interest, and won’t bring Marineland to trial?”

It’s the second time in five years the operator has seen animal cruelty charges dropped before the courts.

In August 2017, the Crown dropped a case involving 11 accusations of animal cruelty by the tourist attraction, citing “no reasonable chance of conviction.”

Marineland counsel Scott Fenton told Global News in an email that the outlet was pleased with the decision, saying it was “grateful for the careful and principled review of the matter” by the Crown.


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