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Mass Graves Discovered at Marineland

Written by Alisa Mullins | December 21, 2012

A newspaper exposé has led to an investigation by Ontario’s Environment Ministry into four mass animal graves at the province’s Marineland theme park. According to a former park employee, the graves contain the bodies of more than 1,000 animals, including orcas, dolphins, seals, walruses, bears, bison, and deer.

Former marine-mammal trainer Phil Demers described one particularly gruesome incident to a reporter from the Toronto Star. After an orca named Kandu died in December 2005, he was buried on the park’s grounds. But staffers failed to obtain brain tissue samples during the whale’s necropsy, so Demers and another trainer were assigned the macabre task of exhuming Kandu’s body two weeks later.

“He was not frozen and it smelled so bad and there was blood all over the place,” says Demers. “I was elbow deep in the pit in a reddish orangey sludge and we both kept coming up to vomit. It was gross.”

Graveyard of Niagara Falls

The graves may be illegal, since Ontario requires waste permits to dispose of animal corpses and the park apparently had no such permits. Government officials are also concerned about possible contamination of the water and soil, especially because of the graves’ close proximity to the Welland River, which feeds nearby Niagara Falls.

PETA has been campaigning against Marineland for years, citing the park’s abysmal conditions and the high mortality rate among young whales and dolphins. The park also has a long history of obtaining wild-caught beluga whales, dolphins, and orcas, including Keiko, aka “Willy” from the movie Free Willy, whom Marineland sold to an even more depressing park in Mexico, where he languished for years before being rescued and rehabilitated. This summer, Demers and seven other former trainers came forward to report numerous instances of neglect and abuse, including serious damage to animals’ skin and eyes because of filthy, tainted water.

Alarmingly, Ontario is Canada’s only province that does not regulate the keeping and displaying of exotic animals or conduct public-safety inspections. Parks like Marineland are allowed to “police” themselves, and Marineland’s mass graves are silent testimony to how good—or bad—of a job it’s doing.

You Can Help

Refuse to patronize any marine park, including SeaWorld, which also has a tragic track record. Please voice your objections about the lack of adequate captive-animal protection laws in Ontario to Premier Kathleen Wynne:

Kathleen Wynne, Premier
Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1

E-mail: [email protected]

Phone:  416-325-1941

Commenting is closed.
  • Kelli says:

    I will never step foot in a place like this again…and will teach my children that these animals should remain in the wild with their families!! I was horrified at the conditions… And even more horrified after the documentary Blackfish! It is so horrific how terribly these animals are treated…. No living thing deserves this ABUSE….these people should be ashamed of themselves.

  • aeron says:

    I will never go there should never be that many animals in captivity they should all be shut down

  • Emily says:

    This is absolutly discusting. They should not get away with treating their animals like objects and taking them as they please. This needs to stop.

  • Eva says:

    People just decide to pretend being innocents, it’s easier to say “I didn’t know”. It doesn’t matter if they are treated well or not, the point is that no animal should ever be exposed or encaged just to please human’s macabre nature.

  • amina says:

    does sea world treat their animals like this? if so i am never going there again!

  • Mandy says:

    Unfortunately this is not news to me, for years I have been watching the tragedies unfold at several Marine life parks across the world. Its heart breaking to hear about and that’s why I think many tend to ignore it, and it does have a lot to do with money unfortunately. You can try to tell people about the horrors that happen even at slaughter houses and its easier to ignore whats happening then to actually do anything about it.

  • Vanessaw11 says:

    its sad that these animal parks like ‘MarineLand’ can have animals on display like objects, and then ‘disposed’ of when theyr not being cared for properly.. What is the point in these parks?!? If people knew how they were reeeeeaalllyyy treated and the harm it causes these unique, beautiful marine animals im sure there would NOT be as many of this STUPID parks open for show!! Makes me sick!! People need to know about the cruelty before they pay money to contributing to keeping these places running!

  • Caralee says:

    I wouldnt dream of going to a marine “life” place like marine land….

  • jstamesngr says:

    this is horrible. all the so called “entertainment” places that use captured sea life should be closed. i can see an aquarium (as in the Steinhart in Monterey, CA.) where the fish are truly cared for and not made to “entertain). I can see this as educational and also if used to save a breed that’s emperiled – but I know those folks are true to their work (I’ve been there and have also asked them for help for an issue I had once w/ starfish). I’m surprised that anyone is worried about graves as we all go back into the earth if we don’t insist on being buried in a stupid, expensive casket….cremation would be nice tho’ for them….I bury all my animals in the backyard and my well hasn’t gotten poisoned!!

  • Catharine says:

    Not that I am for what Marineland has done and the way they treat their animals is not right. If you do go there, there is no way to tell that these animals are sick. All the animals on display do not look sick, so it is hard to see what all these people are talking about when you do go there. Or I should say except for the deer and bears. But Marineland brings in A LOT of money for Niagara Falls, so the the chance of it getting shut down is looking pretty slim. You can protest and protest but it all comes down to the money in the end.

  • Vanessa Sirois says:

    U guys should be shut down for good!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yous should be ashamed!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ejennc says:

    FYI, McGuinty resigned, so someone else will be in charge in…Feb…March…whenever they feel like it it seems. Really hoping this finally brings Marineland and John Holer down Al Capone-style, since our efforts with the animals and our government so far has been futile…

  • Hannah Feldman-Taub says:

    Thanks for telling me this I am 10 years old and are a part of peta I think there should be a ban on keeping mirine life in places like mirine land and sea world I love what your tring to do.

  • Savanna says:

    I simply can not believe that Marine land should be operational after such blatant disregard for life in general and the laws of our province. Keep in mind that your actions in regard to this incident along with many others will make a statement. I urge you to make the right statement and do what you know is right. I beg you to act because this is your responsibility as our Premier. Act on our behalf and stop the brutality please. I look forward to learning you have responded to this cruelty. Thank you Respectfully yours; Savanna

  • Mirtha says:

    i’m totally schock about it, please stop this!

  • RUTH SMITH says:

    This is a dispicable crime against poor defenceless animals! They have been captured from their natural environment and enslaved in horrific conditions, has any thought gone into how these beautiful creatures must feel? the people involved in this treatment are selfish and cruel,and they have no right to steal these animals against their will,and make them perform everyday,to people who know no better and who are ignorant!

  • susan says:

    I’ll never go to Seaworld or any place where animals are captive.

  • Avelina Pereira says:

    While people recorrently go to see the shows of those poor animals that are displayed for amusement this will not stop. Animals have the right of life in freedom, in there natural enviroment.

  • laura bo says:

    Stop now!!basta ya de explotar y masacrar a estos animales!

  • laura bo says:

    Stop now!!basta ya de explotar y masacrar a estos animales!

  • Ilham Majure says:

    Are these natural parks or holocaust sites; what a shame for Canada! Take care of your animals and protect them, this is their right.


    shame on you for the mass graves, you need to shut down. Very disrespectful. Your horrible treatment of these animals is what caustes their deaths and now you are trying to bury the secrets. Unacceptable…..

  • Jo caffry says:

    Absolutely disgusting. Horrifying that these so called human beings, can and are allowing this barbaric treatment of these wonderful mammals. Somebody needs to deal with these issues ASAP and close the place down.

  • Nik says:

    It needs to be shut down. Forever.

  • barbarae clement says:

    Dear Sir It always surprises me how people of your prominence and power are so reluctant to make effortless and random acts of kindness. You could stop Seaworlds cruelty. You could make the wold a little better by doing this. Yet..? I wonder what happens on the way up to change people so or maybe they succeed because they never cared. But this I do know every litle effort made, every little kindness done , makes a difference. Please stop this. barbara

  • margot wiesmayr says:

    you are soooo sick!!!!