marineland closing

Rumours suggest Marineland is closing down for good and land is for sale to developers

Marineland of Canada, the controversial Niagara Falls attraction that houses thousands of land and sea animals, may be shuttering for good at the end of the 2021 season, which closes out in just five days on October 10.

Like all businesses, the park has ostensibly had a hell of a year and a half thanks to the global pandemic, but it is has also faced its own unique battles given the nature of its operations — ones that have been long-running, but revived in recent months in particular by the story of one heartbreakingly lonely and struggling orca.

Kiska, widely considered the zoo's most famous resident, has spent the vast majority of her 44-some-odd years in captivity after being caught off the coast of Iceland in the late 1970s, and has lived in complete isolation in a concrete tank for an entire decade now despite the fact that orcas, also known as killer whales, are extremely intelligent and social animals that in the wild exist in pod familial structures.

The five calves she's birthed while at Marineland all died at a young age — just a few of the 60+ animals that have allegedly passed away while in the park's care — and the public has expressed concern for her health and treatment at the park for years as her mental and physical state continue to visibly deteriorate.

A series of viral videos shared to social media in recent weeks (including one posted just yesterday) show how despondent and even self-harming Kiska has become, renewing calls that she be relocated to a sanctuary and that the park be shut down.

Amid the outrage came damning information from an ongoing inspection by Animal Welfare Services that states Marineland's animals are "in distress" due to poor water quality, followed by a legal complaint demanding an investigation into Kiska's condition.

Some public reviews of the facility lend credence to the cause, more than one of them noting that not just Kiska but many of the attraction's animals "look sad and sick" and don't appear to be properly cared for.

And so, it seems the park may have reached the end of its 60-year tenure — at least, according to Phil Demers, a former Marineland trainer-turned-whistleblower who is behind the push to free Kiska and other cetaceans at the site, and is also at the centre of the documentary The Walrus and the Whistleblower.

"Fact: Marineland has six operating days remaining in its existence. As of Oct. 11th, it’s never opening again," Demers bluntly tweeted on Sept. 28, breaking huge news that has not been widely publicly shared elsewhere.

He continued on to say that "2021 will go down as the greatest year in Marineland advocacy history" after "a methodic, meticulous and merciless takedown, as promised."

When questioned for sources and further info in responses, Demers only reiterated that the park will not be operating in 2022, listing himself as the insider source.

"Do you [know] anything about Phil? His word is proof enough," one user chimed.

"MarineLand doesn’t tell you what they do. I do. Not public info," Demers replied to another.

Indeed, the alleged permanent closure of the park and sale of the property is not widely available information at this time beyond Demers's tweets, but he tells blogTO that Marineland will not be reopening for the 2022 season, and that its owners are in the process of shopping the land around to developers with a price tag of $300 million.

"They won't reopen again. Half the rides didn't work this season and they never will. Can't afford to operate. 'Must sell before May of 2022,'" he says, adding that these goings-on are taking place under the strictest confidentiality but that "the people who know, know."

He added in a conversation with the Niagara Falls Review that he has seen development companies touring the park firsthand, and that the attraction's future has been up in the air since the death of its founder in 2018.

Kiska is Marineland's last surviving orca and the last captive orca in Canada amid onging protestspetitions, and the 2019 Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, which prohibits keeping, breeding and trading new whales, dolphins and porpoises for entertainment purposes but does not apply to those already in captivity.

The park — which claims to operate on the tenets of education, concervation and research — did not respond to blogTO's request for comment or confirmation of its looming end.

Demers remains the only source for the news, though others online claim that they too have seen the link for the land's sale.

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