Marineland cleared after surprise inspection

Ray Spiteri, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

NIAGARA FALLS, ONT. - An unannounced inspection of Marineland last month by one of the agencies that oversees the care of animals in captivity has given the Niagara Falls theme park a passing grade.

"All of the water (in the pools) was clear and clean," states a report from the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which inspected Marineland Oct. 26.

"None of the animals in the water appeared to be experiencing any discomfort."

The report, submitted by CAZA's business manager, Greg Tarry, indicates staff levels were sufficient to conduct the needed training, feeding and maintain the cleanliness of the facility.

"All of the animals in question were inspected and appeared to be in good health with no sign of eye or skin problems. Two of the older sea lions were receiving pain medications to address long-standing eye issues that had been identified as primarily age related."

CAZA also assessed the condition of Kiska, the park's killer whale. Former Marineland trainer Christine Santos told the media last month that Kiska was bleeding sporadically from her tail and had been for some time.

A CAZA inspector asked for and received copies of Kiska's medical records for the "last several months" and was given copies of the daily observation sheets completed by staff. The inspector also visited Kiska's pool.

"At the time of the inspection there was no sign of bleeding or injury," reads the report. "The animal appears to be in good health and is eating a full ration (of fish)."

The inspection concluded Kiska's injury had happened "some time ago" and that the animal was treated and had routine blood sampling done. The injury was a "relatively small cut" on the tail area. It's unclear how Kiska sustained the injury, however, "like many small cuts, when bumped it will bleed.

"There is no cause for concern on the part of the (CAZA Accreditation Commission) regarding the health of the animal at this time," the report states.

CAZA, funded by its membership of accredited facilities including Marineland, sent three inspectors to the park Aug. 23 and found the marine mammals to be in good health. The agency said there was no evidence of animal abuse, pool water quality was good and staffing levels appeared to be adequate.

CAZA said at the time it would conduct unannounced visits to Marineland every four to six weeks until the theme park updates its water-quality management system.

The pre-announced inspection in August was the result of allegations of animal mistreatment, staffing issues and poor water conditions by former Marineland trainer Phil Demers, who left the park earlier this year.

Marineland has denied the allegations.

CAZA's national director, Bill Peters, said Marineland continues to work on its water protocol.

He said CAZA is looking at bringing in an independent professional to assess and review Marineland's entire water system.

"That will be done as soon as possible," Peters said. "We are researching a number of companies that qualify in that area and will look to make arrangements with a firm."


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