The Crown, the national prosecution service in Canada, has dropped charges against the Marineland theme park at Niagara Falls for its alleged illegal dolphin and whale performances. Charges were made in 2021 by the Niagara Regional Police following a complaint that alleged Marineland used dolphins and whales for entertainment purposes in August in contravention of the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act 2019. In December 2022, Crown prosecutor Michal Sokolski decided to drop the charges claiming it was “not in the public interest” to prosecute.
The animal protection organisation Animal Justice claimed it had obtained video footage of the 2021 performances, showing trainers announcing a “dolphin dance party” in which the captive mammals were coerced to perform tricks that included “jumping out of the water, spinning in the air, and pushing trainers through the water.”
An amendment to the Criminal Code passed in 2019 made it an offence for cetaceans to perform for the public. The law prohibits the captivity, capture, and breeding of dolphins, porpoises, and whales, and to use them in performances as entertainment. However, this case suggests that the acclaimed ban on cetaceans’ captivity in Canada may be only theoretical.
Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, said to Global News, “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…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?”
Five years ago, other charges were dropped against the marine park. The Crown dropped a case involving 11 accusations of animal cruelty by the tourist attraction, citing “no reasonable chance of conviction.”