Marineland has banned a number of people from its buildings, some of whom have never visited Niagara Falls, Ontario, a tourist attraction, days before the facility opens for the season.
Among those who received the trespassing notice were a lawyer, a filmmaker and a scientist, all spelled the same except for the names. Notices state that recipients “do not have the right to enter the property known as Marineland of Canada, Inc” and may not enter the property “at any time for any reason.”
The notice states that any recipient entering the property may be charged under trespass law and subject to a $2,000 fine if convicted.
The documents are signed by owner Mary Holler.
Marineland, which opened the season on Saturday, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Miranda Desa, a lawyer for the activist organization Last Chance for Animals, said she received the notice on Tuesday.
That notice said the ban applies not only to Desa, but to the entire organization, its “employees, volunteers, representatives, agents, directors, and affiliates.”
“The first thing that comes to mind is ‘what are they hiding?'” she said. “
“Last Chance for Animals helped file a lawsuit against Marineland last fall.”
Last year, Last Chance for Animals sent an investigator to Marineland to find out what was going on inside the park.
The organization sent videos as part of a complaint to the Niagara Regional Police in September 2021 and its investigator submitted a statement to the police a month later.
In December 2021, the Niagara Regional Police charged Marineland for allegedly using dolphins and whales for entertainment, a charge the tourist attraction denies.
Marineland blamed the accusation on “ideologically motivated activists” who filed a police complaint.
Marineland made its fourth court appearance this week. The case was adjourned until June.
In March, Desa said, police contacted Last Chance for Animals to request more photos and videos.
“I think they’re trying to stop the LCA from coming in and seeing what’s going on,” she said of the Marineland ban.
Desa said the organization’s members will abide by the infringement notice, noting that they have no real recourse to fight the ban.
“There are many good ways to continue advocating,” she said.
Rob Laidlow, executive director of animal rights organization Zoocheck, said he received the notice earlier this week.
“It just sounds ridiculous, they really can’t ban everyone,” he said.
Laidlaw said he received a similar infringement notice several years ago.
“I have no intention of going back, there is no need,” he said.
Others who received the trespassing notice were at a loss, including three advisors from Project Whale Sanctuary, a proposed coastal sanctuary in Nova Scotia for whales that were being preserved in marine parks.
Documentary filmmaker Harry Rabin chuckled, “I have nothing to do with Marineland.” “It’s really strange.”
He suspects the advice he received may be related to his upcoming documentary, “Scream of the Wild,” about 100 whales that have been captured and preserved in Russian waters and destined for marine parks around the world.
“I wasn’t really paying attention to them,” he said, “we were doing our job, but they woke up a sleeping giant now.”
Sarah Dubois, scientific director of the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, believes it was her relationship as a consultant to the Whale Sanctuary Project that put her on the list.
“I honestly thought it was spam,” she said.
“I have had no contact with Marineland, have never visited Marineland, and have not spoken publicly about Marineland yet.”
Liv Baker, a third consultant for the Safe Haven Project, who lives in New York, said she had never visited or discussed the park before.
“It’s weird, and random,” said Baker, a professor in the Animal Behavior and Conservation Program at Hunter College.
Charles Vinick, executive director of the Whale Conservation Project, said he and a handful of advisors received the notifications, but no other employees.
He said, “This is strange.”
Marineland and the sanctuary project had previously had discussions about the potential relocation of some of the whales at one point, but those discussions ended in December when Marineland released a report claiming the reserve’s waters were highly polluted.
“We look forward to speaking to Marineland in the future,” Finnick said.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 21, 2022.