Canada: Proposed Regs a Dud

By Ric O’Barry
Dolphin Project

Last week in Canada, I had meetings and a press conference (see video below) in Parliament and then attended a wonderful demonstration against Marineland, one of the worst dolphinariums in North America.  As many as 800 people attended the rally to close down Marineland due to the harsh and negligent treatment of animals.

So, it was with some anticipation today that we heard new regulations were being proposed by Provincial Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur.

But the regulations are a complete dud!  They are so bad, they have been endorsed by Marineland in a statement.

The proposed regulations would only take existing measures and existing enforcement, which have not helped at all, and try to improve on them.  But the improvements are extremely vague.  We believe they are simply trying to set up a rubber stamp system for approving Marineland’s continued existence.  The enforcement would continue to rely on people who have no expertise in keeping marine mammals in captivity and who, subsequently, have allowed Marineland to continue operations despite existing laws.

The proposed regulations are also likely calculated to undercut the efforts of Parliament member Cheri DiNovo, who addressed the crowd on Sunday, expressing her interest in submitting meaningful new legislation to curtail the harm being done at Marineland.

Marineland Animal Defense (MAD), which organized last Sunday’s massive demonstration, issued a statement that said in part:

“We find the announcement today to be just a further continuation of the ‘crocodile tears’ that Minister Madeleine Meilleur has been crying from the beginning.  Do not mistake her supposed anguish for serious conviction.  In her press conference Minister Madeleine Meilleur repeated that parks like Marineland are educational and that ‘we all like to go to places like Marineland’ – an absurd statement made even more outrageous after more people demonstrated against the park this past Sunday than entered.”

Clearly, Marineland has strong political ties, and their government cronies are trying to help them out by proposing weak regulations that in fact will allow Marineland to remain open.

I had hoped that Minister Meilleur would take a different and better approach to the problems at Marineland, but I have been disappointed.

Phil Demers, the Marineland ex-trainer who has led efforts to fix the problems at Marineland, nailed the proposed regulations in stating:  “What is needed NOW is MORE pressure to enact the current enforceable laws within the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s jurisdiction.   I believe a demonstration outside Queen’s Park is the next feasible step until Marineland inevitably makes it’s way back on the front pages of National news, on account of more incidents of abuse or by the acquisition of new wild animals.”

So, get active and stay active – we need to show Marineland and the local government that we will not accept their weak-kneed effort to sweep the problem under the rug again (as they have done in the past).

To learn how you can help: 

Sign the petition on – (Minister DiNovo has promised to deliver this petition, weekly, as numbers continue to increase.  It has just over 81,000 signatures now.)

Ric O’Barry with Rob Laidlaw of Zoocheck Canada Press Conference (Oct. 5, 2012):



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About Ric O'Barry

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Ric O’Barry, Dolphin Project Founder & Director has worked on both sides of the captive dolphin issue, making him an invaluable asset in the efforts to end exploitation. He worked for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, and has spent the past 40 working against it.

In the 1960s, O’Barry was employed by the Miami Seaquarium, where he captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. He also trained Hugo, the first orca kept in captivity east of the Mississippi. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.

From that moment on, O’Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry and has been going at it ever since.

Over the past 40 years, Ric O’Barry has rescued and rehabilitated dolphins in many countries around the world, including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. He is a leading voice in the fight to end brutal dolphin hunts in Japan, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, and wherever else they occur.

O’Barry has been recognized by many national and international entities for his dedicated efforts, such as being voted Huffington Post’s 2010 Most Influential Green Game Changer, and being listed on O Magazine’s 2010 Power List – Men We Admire for his “Power of Passion.” O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. He has done countless interviews with such prestigious news programs as Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, the Mike Huckabee Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

His book Behind the Dolphin Smile was published in 1989; a second book, To Free A Dolphin was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication. He is the star of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet television series Blood Dolphin$.

Author: Ric O'Barry


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