Marineland has been charged with five counts of animal cruelty.
The charges relate to the Niagara Falls animal park’s alleged mistreatment of a peacock, guinea hens and about 35 American black bears.
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) says further charges under the Ontario SPCA Act are pending.
None of the animals were seized from the park, but the OSPCA says it’s making sure they receive appropriate care.
The charges stem from an investigation by OSPCA officials and a veterinarian on Nov. 10, which was sparked by a complaint.
“Reports of animal cruelty are taken very seriously,” OSPCA Senior Inspector Steve Toy said in a media release. “When we receive reports of cruelty that involve wildlife or exotic animals, we will utilize our experts as well as industry experts to assist us with our investigation.”
The specific charges laid are:
- One count for permitting a peacock bird to be in distress.
- One count for failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for a peacock.
- Two counts for failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for Guinea hens.
- One count for failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care including failing to provide adequate and appropriate food and water for about 35 American black bears.
Marineland addressed the charges in a statement released on Friday.
The company said the peacock in question was healthy, but had an “issue with one eye” which is being treated.
“Marineland believes the peacock is fine and with appropriate treatment will return to the flock and lead a healthy long life.”
According to the company, the Guinea hens “did not respond well” after four OSPCA members entered their pen, causing the officials to express concerns about the space. Marineland said it has provided an additional shelter area for the birds.
“No Guinea hens were unhealthy, needed medical treatment, or were not acting in a well-adjusted manner,” the statement said.
The bears, Marineland said, have easy access to water and are eating the same diet that had been deemed acceptable to the OSPCA in the past. Marineland said the OSPCA expressed concerns about bears eating fruits and vegetables with adhesive labels on them, which the company described as “regrettable,” but not harmful.
“All of Marineland’s bears are extremely healthy and were recently checked by veterinary staff on Nov. 23, 2016,” the statement read. “No problems were found and the veterinarian noted, ‘the bears are on an excellent and varied diet.'”
The company claimed the investigation was the result of a complaint from a disgruntled former employee. The OSPCA has not revealed who lodged the complaint.
The park, which opened in 1961, has faced considerable public scrutiny and protests over its alleged treatment of animals in recent years.