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8 Trainers Reveal Abuse at Marine Park

Written by Michelle Kretzer | August 16, 2012

Eight trainers at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, have handed in their resignations and are speaking out to the Toronto Star about the cruel and abusive conditions at the marine animal prison, which PETA has been after for years.

Because they were made to sign nondisclosure agreements about what goes on behind the scenes at the park, many of the trainers asked not to be identified by name. But former trainer Phil Demers, who quit the park after 12 years, gave a daring on-camera interview describing the abuse he witnessed:


(Video courtesy of

PETA has had our sights on Marineland for some time, writing letters to Canadian officials and asking them to take action to improve conditions at the park.

Now, Marineland owner John Holer’s own trainers are accusing the park of cruelty to animals, including the following:

  • Because of insufficient staff, a sick walrus named Zeus often lies unattended in his own excrement.
  • The park’s highly social lone orca, Kiska, has had no contact with any other orcas since another orca on loan for breeding was shipped back to SeaWorld, and four others have died prematurely at the park since 2004 alone.
  • A sea lion named Baker circles in mindless laps, rubbing against the side of the tank to scratch his itchy, irritated skin, which is missing patches of fur because of the bacteria- and chemical-laden water. He also lost his left eye lens as a result of severe irritation caused by the water.
  • Many of the animals keep their red, swollen eyes squeezed shut against the damaging effects of the filthy water.
  • Five dolphins had their skin fall off in chunks after they spent months swimming in water so green they could barely be seen in it.
  • Six of the park’s seven seals are blind, have impaired vision, or have other serious eye problems because of the unsanitary water.

When questioned about the insufficient staff, dirty water, and untimely death of a baby beluga, Marineland owner John Holer offered this chilling answer: “[F]or people and all living things, there is a time to live and a time to die.”

Perhaps his cavalier attitude explains the more than 40 whale and dolphin deaths at Marineland since the park’s inception. The park, along with fellow marine animal prison SeaWorld, earned a spot on PETA’s list of deadly destinations, a register of places that anyone who cares about animals should avoid like the plague.

Please voice your objections about the lack of adequate laws to protect captive animals to Premier Dalton McGuinty:

The Honourable Dalton McGuinty

Premier of Ontario
Rm. 281, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A4
416-325-7578 (fax)

Commenting is closed.
  • For Shame says:

    @Whatever…SeaWorld does the same damn thing to there animals. They took a baby from her mother because she was not perferming tricks in the fashion she was trained to do. That poor creature cried for hours on end for her baby. What does that tell you? How do you think she felt when she was reported making gut wrenching calls for her baby to come to her side? You want to work for SeaWorld? Why not work on keeping them healthy in their habitat. The one trainer who worked well with the orcas and they with him…is now dead. Smarten up.

  • Allan R .Slater says:

    Marineland,I was told it was pasted by the S.P.C.A no disrespect intended,but how could they pass this park ,with all these animals being blinded and having sores on them .From the poor water their kept in.We should close this place down,if at all possible.The owner of the park is a fowl mouth person,as this is the way he was with me in1975,conditions were terrible then an are still worse today. THANKS for this opportunity too voice my opinion!

  • Gwen says:

    Marineland was inspected by CAZA recently after reports of abuse and neglect were released by former trainers. CAZA, who is partially funded by Marineland, gave the park a passing grade in their inspection. A complete joke.

  • jennifer Law says:

    And furthermore why has there never been any inspection of quality and control of water at Marineland, it can,t be a law unto itself. There has to be guidlines to have correct conditions for the animals they display.If the animals are living in unfit conditions it needs to be proven and the animals removed

  • Jennifer Law says:

    How can John Holer be so callous, has he not learned how to take care of these wonderful animals over the past 50 years. Is he putting in little effort to make maximum money at the cost of these animals welfare. I hope and pray for a solution fast.

  • Lori says:

    Mr. Holer needs to see the light of day, he can keep his park and rides, but let these innocent animals go into recovery facilities so they can live. Ontario is slow with laws in the first place, especially laws to protect animals from neglect. This has to change. I’ve signed a petition already.. this is the link,marineland-s-animals This petition will be sent to Dalton MCGuinty.

  • jeanie says:

    The way these animals have been treated is vile,no living thing should be treated in the way these poor animals have.It is utter neglect and the owners of Marineland should be convicted of the abuse of the animals.These poor animals have been made to suffer and its about time that their was justice for them.Its no good putting your head in the sand and hoping it will be ok , because how many morw will end up there!! Do something before its too late!

  • kurisu7885 says:

    If true, marine parks need the hammer of the law brought down on them, HARD. Really the animals living there should have it good

  • Erick says:

    I played the video for ONE SECOND, and it was so bad I had to turn it off. I think these people need to be punished BIGTIME!

  • Brad says:

    This is like some horrible nightmare something needs to be done to help these animals! Bob Barker needs in on this he will raise awareness. This makes me beyond sad I just can’t understand how people can be so cruel.

  • Whatever says:

    Well atleast Seaworld doesn’t do this. I went backstage with the whales and the conditions were great!! Ever since Ive dedicated my life to marine mammals and hope to get a job at Seaworld.

  • jennyjennifer123 says:

    I am so tired of this inhumane treatment of animals. We need to OUTLAW or make rules in these places VERY sTRICT! I want places like sea world to be like a reahbilitation center for injured animals. If kids aren’t amazed by watching reabilitated animals heal then let them place dumb rides in the parks but they shouldn’t be able to imprison a whale or any animal for years and teach it to do tricks for our amusement, indefinitely or until death. That’s wrong. Idk WHY people CAN’T SEE THAT!

  • Sam says:

    These sick, cruel bastards! How on Earth could humans be so cruel to such kind, gentile creatures?!

  • Ashley says:

    The fact that this park put in new a huge new ride before it made any effort to make the lives of it’s animals any less miserable goes to show how much they really care about the animals that are drawing in the real money. More trainers and other people who care need to keep standing up to places like this. People need to stop supporting this place, patronizing it and making excuses for it’s treatment of animals. These animals can’t help themselves and it’s up to all of us to do what we can for them. I hop that PETA starts an action alert to get these animals removed from the facility. I also think that it would help to put pressure on t.v. and radio stations to drop the Marineland ads.

  • Martha Reiss says:

    I will be visit Niagara Falls in the next months, but I will be sure not support this cruel and horrible place, and I will be sure my friends and groups of turist do not visit this standard of sadism and monstruosity place.

  • Ky says:

    Is something being done? I know there’s an investigation, but they’re have that “we’ll get to it when we get to it attitude”. It’s simple, the animals are visibly hurting, therefore that means neglect. WHAT CANE WE DO PETA?

  • Nicole says:

    I am so disturbed by this brutal and harsh treatment of these beautiful mammals. It really saddens me to say Im from Niagara Falls, but please people save these sweet innocent animals. Share the videos, links, and articles through every outlet possible so we can put a stop to this.

  • Anna says:

    I actually went to this park about five years ago when I wasn’t an animal advocate. This was, fortunately, before many new animals and aquariums were added, but still. Hopefully we can get more attention on this and help the poor animals out!

  • Francini Abrahao says:

    Please, I beg you stop this torture! You are wrong to keep animals in such terrible conditions!

  • Natasha says:


  • JeannetteNL says:

    A group of concerned citizens in Niagara Falls have just started a Facebook page against Marineland. There are not many people as of yet but hopefully soon. That owner has been negligent for years and is all about the money, not proper care of animals. He is beyond disliked in Niagara. Please come join this page and try to stop this man that cares nothing for the animals that supply him with all his wonderful material goods…