Marineland of Canada facts for kids
|Slogan||Everyone Loves MarineLand!|
|Location||7657 Portage Road
Niagara Falls, Ontario
|Opened||1961; 60 years ago|
Marineland (official name Marineland of Canada Inc.), is a themed zoo and amusement park in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The park has performing marine animal shows, sea mammal and land animal exhibits, and amusement rides. It keeps dolphins, walruses, sea lions, an orca, and beluga whales. The park also keeps bears, deer and other land animals. It was founded and operated by John Holer, a Slovenian immigrant, from 1961 until his death in 2018. It is privately owned-and-operated by his family.
The park's keeping of sea mammals is controversial, and the park is involved in several lawsuits related to the practice. The keeping of the sea mammals is opposed by animal rights activists and Marineland has been the site of animal rights demonstrations.
Marineland of Canada keeps about 4,000 land and marine animals. Marineland operates 16 rides ranging from rides for children, to thrill rides for adults. The marine animals perform several times daily at King Waldorf Stadium. The park does not release annual attendance figures. Published amounts range from 250,000 to 500,000 annually.
In 2020, however, the facility did not open in spring as planned because of the restrictions required by the COVID-19 pandemic. The park planned to reopen on July 17, with precautions to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. However, since the Ontario Government was not allowing amusement parks to open, the facility remained closed.
Marineland is a former member of Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA). The company "voluntarily and temporarily" withdrew from CAZA in May 2017, stating it was expanding the area for animals and "will be continuing to work with CAZA to ensure that the expansion is successfully harmonized with CAZA principles".
Marineland keeps beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, grey seals, harbour seals, penguins, sea lions, a walrus (Smooshi) and one orca ('killer whale'). The belugas are kept in Arctic Cove, Friendship Cove and King Waldorf Stadium. As of August 2017, Marineland had 53 belugas.
Kiska is the only orca at Marineland. A 2012 report stated that Marineland was then looking for a companion for their orca. Since then, it appears that Kiska will be the last orca that the park will own. On May 28, 2015, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Act. The act prohibits the possession or breeding of orcas in Ontario while allowing Marineland to keep its orca. Marineland has stated its opposition to moving Kiska, preferring to import "an age-appropriate companion", not allowed under the Ontario law.
- Friendship Cove: This exhibit was built for the display of orcas and now also houses belugas. According to Marineland, it is the world's largest whale habitat for viewing above ground and below. Friendship Cove currently holds one orca: Kiska (female, currently age 42). There are three pools in Friendship Cove. In pool A, there are 12 belugas: Burnaby, Eve, Horus, Jellybean, Orion, Qila, Neva, Mira, Osiris, Rain and Tuk. Pool B is the habitat for Kiska and pool C is a medical pool that Kiska uses.
- Arctic Cove: Is the main beluga whale exhibit. The design of the exhibit allows viewing above and below ground. Guests also have the opportunity to pet and feed the beluga whales for a fee. These interaction sessions occur throughout the day. There are three pools in Arctic Cove: two habitat pools and a medical pool. There are 24 belugas in pool A: Andre, Kodiak, Tank, Isis and Titan, Skyla, Jetta, Ivy, Acadia and Sahara, Aurora, Kharabali, Frankie, Xavier, Ruby, Yara, Wink, Gemini, Secord, Havok, Lillooet, Nahanni, Kelowna and Skara. There are 14 belugas in pool B: Xena and Calf, Sierra and Calf, Jubilee and Calf, Meeka and Calf, Peekachu and Calf, Caspian and Calf, and Cleo and Calf.
- King Waldorf Stadium: Opened on July 1, 1971, this is the main stadium where marine animals perform. The show has sea lions, a walrus and bottlenose dolphins. There are four habitat pools. In the left side pool are five dolphins: Tsunami, Echo, Lida, Sonar and Marina. In the right side pool, two belugas are kept: Charmin and Tofino. In the two backstage areas, there are five female California sea lions: Holly, Malibu, Sydney, Maui and Cleveland. In the other backstage area is the walrus Smooshi.
- Aquarium Dome: This facility, opened in 1966, is now a seal habitat. It houses five harbor seals: Curry, Poppy, Baby, Squamish, Larry; and a grey seal named Delphine.
- Warehouse: This area has a four-quadrant pool area, along with a separate pool currently used to house dolphins during the winter months. Marineland has several animals off exhibit from King Waldorf Theatre. This structure was added in the mid-1970s. There are five California sea lions: Holly, Malibu, Sydney, Maui, Cleveland; a walrus Smooshi, and five dolphins in winter: Lida, Echo, Tsunami, Sonar and Marina.
- Penguin Palace:
- Polar Splash - Opened in 2019
- Bear Country: an area featuring black bears sits below a viewing deck, where visitors can throw Corn Pops cereal (originally marshmallows) to them.
- Deer Park: European Fallow Deer are in a fenced-in area which allows people to move about freely. Food is provided for a fee.
- Carp Pond: An area in which carp and koi gather around "deck bridges", allowing easy viewing and feeding for a fee.
- Elk and Buffalo: allow for easy viewing of these creatures grazing. Feeding also available for a fee.
Marineland has a collection of different rides, including a pair of roller coasters and a large launched free fall.
|Boat Carousel||Mack Rides||Wikingefahrt||1982||Carousel composed of ornate boats.|
|Bumble Bee||HUSS||Troika||2006||Spinning flat ride with bee-shaped vehicles.|
|Dragon Mountain||Arrow-HUSS||Custom Looping Coaster||1983||Opened as the world's largest (not longest) non-stop roller coaster, covering 30 acres (1,300,000 sq ft). It features tunnels that lead to the queue area, has two consecutive vertical loops and a bow tie loop. A section of the roller coaster passes through a back section of Marineland and may not have been finished.|
|Flying Dragon||Magic Carpet||<=1992||A flat ride that raises and drops riders in a circular motion.|
|Hurricane Cove||Mack Rides||<=1992||Sea Storm||A flat ride with boat-shaped cars that travel around a central point.|
|Kandu's Twister||Mack Rides||Tea Cups||2003||A classic tea cups style ride with vehicles with orcas on them.|
|Lady Bug Coaster||Zierer||Tivoli||1979||Small family roller coaster with a series of turns. Originally known as Tivoli Coaster.|
|Barnum's Merry-Go-Round||Carousel Works||Carousel||2022|
|Ocean Odyssey||Zierer||Flying Gondolas||2010||Rotating flat ride themed to a giant purple octopus with 12 fish-shaped vehicles.|
|Orca Screamer||Zierer||Family Freefall Tower||2006||Miniature drop tower.|
|Sky Hawk||HUSS||Condor||<=1990||Spinning ride that lifts riders up to a high height.|
|Sky Screamer||S&S - Sansei Technologies||Space Shot Turbo Drop||2004||300 feet (91 m) high launched free fall situated on a 150-foot-tall (46 m) hill, making the total height of the ride 450 feet (140 m). Ascending riders experience 4Gs, while descending riders experience a -2Gs.|
|Tivoli Wheel||Zierer||Ferris Wheel||<=1990||Small Ferris Wheel with 8 arms.|
|Viking Adventure||Zierer||Kontiki||<=1992||Spinning flat ride that rocks back-and-forth.|
|Wave Swinger||Zierer||Chairswing||<=1990||Classic spinning swings ride.|
|Star Voyager||Zierer||star shape||2021||The Star Shape's name is derived from its gondola arms mounted in a star-shaped pattern with five seats each. These arms turn in circles at the upper end of a 30 meter long main mast|
|Ride||Manufacturer||Model||Year Opened||Year Closed||Description|
|Space Avenger||Zamperla||Flying Gondolas||1990||2019||Circular flat ride that allows passengers to control a spaceship.|
|Topple Tower||HUSS||Topple Tower||2007||2011||The topple tower suffered extensive self-inflicted damage to its support structure, and last operated in 2011. It never re-opened.|
|Magic Experience||HUSS||Magic||1992||2019||A spinning flat ride with a large black bear perched atop the center.|
The park was founded by John Holer, a Slovenian immigrant who had worked in circuses in Europe. Holer and a partner bought a portion of the Harry Oakes estate near the falls. The park opened in 1961 as "Marine Wonderland and Animal Farm". Holer welded two large steel tanks together and brought in three sea lions and charged one quarter for admission and another to feed the animals. The attraction also featured an underwater show featuring two female swimmers.
In 1963, a trained sea lion "Jeff" escaped from Marine Wonderland and made it to the Niagara River and went over the falls. Holer offered a CA$50 reward and organized a helicopter search. The seal was recaptured by Holer a few days later in Queenston, where it was found sunning itself with teenager Tommy Haines, who was given the reward.
In 1964, Holer added two dolphins, along with a few other animals and the attraction became known as "Marineland And Game Farm". By 1966, a 2,000-seat "aquatheatre" was completed along with a "grotto" of aquariums and shops. The grotto in the new Aquarium Dome contained eight tanks used to display fresh-water fish. The park became a popular family attraction and recorded an annual attendance of 250,000 for the 1967 season. In 1968, the park added alligators. Neighbouring attraction "Niagara Falls Indian Village" closed down after the 1968 season and Marineland purchased their property.
In 1971, Marineland added orcas. "Kandu" became the park's major attraction. In 1973, the aquarium purchased "Kandy", a 4,000-pound (1,800 kg) female orca captured off Vancouver Island in 1973, to mate with Kandu, but she died later that year. Kandu lived until 1979 and was replaced by "Nootka", captured and brought to the park in 1981. Nootka lived until 2008. By 1975, the park kept over 1,000 animals and claimed to be Niagara Falls' "most popular attraction after the falls."
In 1975, Marineland became involved in a controversy over another orca captured off Vancouver Island. The capture of 'Kanduke' by the Sealand of the Pacific aquarium of Victoria, British Columbia, for purchase by Marineland was blocked by the Government of British Columbia, at the instigation of Greenpeace activists. Claimed to be property by the BC government and resources by the Government of Canada, the orca eventually was transported to Marineland after it was determined that orcas were a resource under the control of the Canadian government. The incident led to the ending of the capture of orcas in British Columbia waters.
In 1976, Marineland announced a CA$50 million expansion on 1,000 adjacent acres, to include a 400-acre "safari park" and amusement centre. Construction began on a new 15,000-seat stadium and pool for killer whales. Marineland purchased two locomotives for a steam train railroad. When plans for Canada's Wonderland were announced, Holer decided to further increase the park's expansion plans, adding a Gothic castle, canals and the world's largest roller coaster, for a total cost of CA$80 million. The "Dragon Mountain" roller coaster opened in 1983 along with other rides. At a cost of CA$9 million, the roller coaster opened without CA$3 million reproductions of the American and Horseshoe falls, postponed to the future. In 1984, Holer announced the postponement of part of the expansion, citing an 86% increase in municipal property taxes, and threatened to move the facility across the river to the United States.
In 1982, Marineland purchased Keiko, a killer whale, from an aquarium in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland. Keiko started performing for the public and developed skin lesions indicative of poor health. He was then sold for $350,000 to Reino Aventura (now named Six Flags México), an amusement park in Mexico City, in 1985. Keiko was the star of the movie Free Willy in 1993. After spending 1996–1998 at Oregon Coast Aquarium, Keiko was returned to a sea pen in Iceland and was released to the ocean in July 2002. He swam to Norway, eventually settling in the Taknes fjord in November 2002, where he was not catching fish and had little contact with wild Orcas; until his death, Keiko was fed daily by the Keiko Project group. Keiko died of pneumonia in December 2003.
In 1986, an unidentified trainer was taken to the hospital after he fell off the park's male killer whale, Kandu 7, and was dragged by his leg around the pool during a trick.
In 2001, Marineland added walruses to the marine mammals it kept. The first walrus was "Sonja", from the Moscow Zoo. It was joined by "Zeus" and "Apollo" two months later and "Pandora", "Buttercup" and "Buddy" in 2002. Marineland added "Smooshi" and "Azul" in 2004. Sonja died in 2017, and Zeus died in 2018.
In 2003, Marineland opened the "Arctic Cove" beluga whale exhibit. Beluga whales were held in Friendship Cove from May 30, 1999, until the opening of Arctic Cove in late 2003. Belugas returned to Friendship Cove in December 2008 following the importation of eight individuals. In 2014, several belugas were switched between Arctic Cove and Friendship Cove.
In 2004, Marineland opened the "Sky Screamer" triple tower ride.
In 2004, Marineland bought the Green Oaks Mobile Home Park across the street from the park with plans to relocate maintenance buildings to the site. In 2009, Marineland evicted 47 families that were tenants at the park. The tenants appealed to the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board, lost their case and were ordered off the property by March 2010. Holer was ordered to pay $11,000 each to several tenants for harassment.
Holer died on June 23, 2018, aged 82. He was praised as an "immigrant success story" by Senator Don Plett (Manitoba). Holer had been seriously ill for five months and died at his home on Chippewa Parkway. Holer was survived by his wife Marie and son Peter. Another son, John Mark Jr., died in 2013.
The Mayor of Niagara Falls, Jim Diodati, sees Marineland at a "crossroads" with three options: to continue the current business model, to sell its 1,000 acres of land to real estate developers, or to become an amusement park without animals. Diodati favours the latter option. Marineland's lawyer Andrew Burns said that there would be no immediate changes to the business. At the time of his death, Holer was working on a new aviary attraction for Marineland. According to testimony before a Senate of Canada committee in May 2017, the 100-acre (40 ha) expansion was described as being one of the largest expansions Marineland has ever made. Holer himself described the overall park as only "half-developed."
On opening day in May 2019, two deer died in a stampede in the deer enclosure, which was reopened for the 2019 season. According to Marineland, a father and son caused the stampede, laughed at staff, and refused to leave the enclosure, then slipped away while staff quieted the animals. Marineland closed the deer enclosure afterwards until modifications are implemented to prevent a future stampede. On May 22, it was announced that the 18-year-old walrus "Apollo" had died of heart failure. It was the fourth walrus to die at Marineland within two years, after "Zeus", "Buttercup" and "Sonja", and left Marineland with a single walrus, "Smooshi". In June, Marineland opened its new "Polar Splash" splash park attraction at a cost of CA$6 million.
In June 2019, Marineland signed a ten-year partnership agreement with the Mystic Aquarium's Sea Research Foundation (a subsidiary of Ocean Wise Inc.) for beluga research. In September 2019, it was announced that Marineland had sold two beluga whales to Oceanographic, a Spanish facility owned by Ocean Wise Inc., with the permission of the Canadian government.
Although Marineland opened for the 2020 season, the park could not open the rides due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Animal rights issues
Since 2012, the park has been the subject of several allegations of poor conditions for its animals by former employees and animal activists have protested outside its gates on several occasions. The park has been inspected by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) and Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), many times over the years, some leading to orders issued by the OSPCA.
In 2012, articles were published by the Toronto Star alleging animal mistreatment, resulting in negative publicity. An inspection by the OSPCA and CAZA, however, found "no issues of concern". The Star reported that the OSPCA issued orders to Marineland to improve the water conditions for animals at the park and address specific issues with other animals, and that Marineland complied.
In 2015, the Government of Ontario banned the practice of breeding and keeping orcas in captivity, while allowing the existing one to remain at Marineland. Marineland's orca lives without any social interaction with other orcas, but has not been moved.
In November 2016 and January 2017, the OSPCA received a complaint from a former employee through the animal rights organization Last Chance for Animals. The OSPCA filed some charges against the park in late 2016 and early 2017, but all of the charges were withdrawn by government prosecutors later that year. Marineland has repeatedly stated publicly that the allegations are the work of disgruntled former employees, who have teamed up with activists wholly opposed to the keeping of animals in captivity and organizations which "seem to financially benefit from any resulting downturn in public opinion towards park operations". Marineland has further maintained that they make every effort to ensure the animals in their care are well provided for. The park employs a number of people who care for the animals day-to-day, as well as an experienced and qualified veterinary staff. Although it is a private facility, Marineland must comply with federal and provincial regulations, as well as comply with several animal welfare enforcement agencies, including regular and "snap" inspections. Marineland has filed nine lawsuits against activists, former employees and the media, and a further lawsuit against the OSPCA for malicious prosecution and reputational damage.
Marineland's main advertising comes through a series of radio and television commercials with the jingle "Everyone Loves Marineland". Marineland has also used other slogans over the years in its advertising:
- "Come to Marineland" – (1980–1985)
- "Where the Fun Never Stops" – (1986–1988)
- "Happiness is Marineland" – (1987–1991)
- "Everyone Loves Marineland" – (1992–present)
Marineland of Canada Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.