Environment ministry launches probe into mass animal graves
The provincial Environment Ministry is poised this week for a sweeping inspection of Marineland mass graves of animals graves it had no idea existed because the park has no permits.
The Niagara Falls tourist attraction has dug pits for decades to dispose of its animals, using heavy machinery to cover them up, according to former staffers.
Asked Wednesday if it has permits for its animal graves, Marineland spokesperson Ann Marie Rondinelli wrote in an email: of life sad truths is that animals sometimes die in zoos, just as they do in the wild.
at Marineland we have the greatest respect for the beautiful animals in our care in both life and death.
remains are dealt with respectfully and in methods as prescribed by the law. graves contain the corpses of whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals and walruses, as well as bears, bison, deer and other animals at the park, which opened in 1961 under its owner John Holer.
Environment Ministry spokesperson Kate Jordan said the inspection was a priority and a team was being assembled late Wednesday. The ministry found out about the mass graves when the Star called to ask about the legality and environmental impact of massive burial sites.
The graves are near the Welland River.
are concerned about the locations of the sites because (they) are so close to a water course, said Jordan. of the scale, size and location of the allegations, we will be looking for evidence of potential adverse impacts. province requires waste permits to dispose of animal corpses. Jordan said there are protocols surrounding the proper way to bury animals, periodic inspections of the sites and soil and water testing for contamination.
There are special rules for farms, but they don apply to Marineland, Jordan said.
Environment Minister Jim Bradley press secretary Lyndsay Miller said the inspection will come this week.
Neither official would speculate in advance about potential repercussions, but said that excavating the sites Cheap Jordan Crawford Jersey is a possibility.
Marineland is closed for the season. www.warriorsteamproshop.com/jordan_crawford_jersey.html
A Star investigation about the treatment of animals at Marineland began in August, Cheap Klay Thompson Jersey based on the accounts of 15 former trainers and supervisors. Most of them spoke of their concerns about the mass graves.
Bodies are frequently hauled onto backhoes, front loaders or trailers, driven across the park and dumped into massive, freshly dug holes. Smaller animals are stored in a huge freezer for mass burial.
Hammond, a 12 year Marineland veteran who left last year, said that except for one small burial, far as I know, lime was never used to help decompose and disinfect the bodies. of his duties included collecting dead animals. He said the only time he saw lime and plastic sheeting used was for the burial of 13 fallow deer that federal veterinarians suspected of having a virus. They ordered them put down and supervised their disposal.
Phil Demers, former senior marine mammal trainer, recalls www.warriorsteamproshop.com/klay_thompson_jersey.html the death of killer whale Kandu in late December 2005. Trainers stood around crying as the dead whale was hoisted by crane out of the pool and onto a trailer.
A necropsy was completed and the whale buried.
Two weeks later, Demers said he was into the office by (a vet) and asked to go and dig up Kandu because they had failed to obtain brain tissue samples.
It was half raining and half snowing, he said, and he looked down into about six inches of water in the deep grave and saw Kandu head. He and another trainer jumped into the grave and began cutting.
was not frozen and it smelled so bad and there was blood all over the place, said Demers. was elbow deep in the pit in a reddish orangey sludge and we both kept coming up to vomit. It was gross. duties as land animal supervisor included picking up animals for disposal, whether on site where they had died or from a huge freezer.
Once he had to help bury dozens of deer.
throw your gloves on and try to pull the frozen deer apart to be able to carry them out, he said, adding two or three men would handle such tasks, using heavy equipment.
threw them into the bucket (of the backhoe) . That time there were so many we had to use both the backhoe and a trailer. construction crew had already dug the hole to contain the deer. The job took two to three hours.
Janice Wing, a Niagara Falls city councillor, became aware of the Marineland graves when a constituent wrote to express concern and ask her to investigate. She wrote to the city asking for information.
thought it was illegal to bury deadstock on property, Wing wrote. find it interesting that neither the city nor the province has investigated this. city clerk told Wing there had never been a complaint.
Wednesday night she told the Star she still doesn know if it illegal.
Correction: This article was edited from a previous version that mistakenly said the Welland river flows into the Niagara River, whose waters eventually barrel over the Falls.