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Before the controversies, before the public outrage. Before Marineland’s present owner John Holer was accused of subjecting sea mammals at Marineland to inhumane conditions. Before the expose by The Toronto Star where it was revealed too many “performers” suffered from a variety of illnesses caused by problems with water quality and chronic under-staffing. Before Canadians took a stand against the cruel treatment of animals in captivity. Before that… we all proudly sang along… “Happiness Is Marineland!”
Marineland, Niagara Falls Ontario, 1980. I have no recollection of this day; as a chubby 2-year old toddler, I was likely balancing on my mom’s knee as my father took the photograph. I marvel at the lack of protective gear; instead of wet suits, the trainers are sporting a t-shirt and shorts. An unkempt, grassy enclosure marks the location of the sea lion show. Two red balloons, suspended from the ceiling, are demonstrative of the killer whale’s impressive range.
A scoreboard in the background flips through comedic images featuring “Nootka”, one of five orcas captured off the coast of Iceland in 1979, just one year prior.
“During her life in captivity, Nootka went through eight pregnancies. Many of her offspring survived the most critical days in life, but just two of them reached adulthood, Splash and Neocia. Nootka was described as a very protective mother, and although a moody orca, she was long considered the best performer at the park. Nootka sadly died during off peak season at Marineland in 2008. The cause of death has never been released.” RIP Nootka.
Chandra Christine O'Connor
we went there once, woman in front of us was all done up with makeup and her hair all curled. I watched her the whole show waiting for the splash. I wasn’t disappointed. soaked!
Chandra Christine O'Connor
I might add I wasn’t a kid when this happened lol I have no shame
Well I suppose if you sit in the splash zone, doing your hair and makeup is a little bit silly!
Chandra Christine O'Connor
I couldnt even watch the show because I didnt want to miss her getting soaked. she wasnt even with kids which I found amusing. we got a little wet but my kids knew and they wanted to get wet. the woman was soaked, really wish I owned a cell phone then.
You are so entertaining Chandra! LOL!
Judy C (Judy Cowan)
I remember going there as a kid but that too was before all of the controversy.
Yes, it certainly has changed a lot, hasn’t it?
I remember going as a kid, having grown up in Hamilton before all the controversy. We did go back when we made a trip home in 2010 with the kids and they loved it. We were mainly there for the rides though that I remember so fondly as a kid. Everyone loves Marineland!
I haven’t been in ages – it’s been at least 15 years. I think my boys would love the rides, but it’s hard for me to enjoy the show now…
Tea & Nail Polish
I have never been, but sadly the same can be said for many zoos and aqauriums, they are businesses not animal welfare companies and profit will come first.
When did it change from Happiness is to Everyone Loves Marineland?
It changed in 1992 :) See, I’m all for zoos and aquariums rehabilitating and rescuing animals… but taking them out of their habitat purposefully? I don’t know. I attended Sea World last year and we did take in the One Ocean show, but now I’m torn…
I think I have been twice to Marineland, both in the 90’s (one at the beginning and one at the end LOL).
I’m not much of one for rides, so apart from the shows it wasn’t as thrilling for me as it was for my family and friends.
I think I remember enjoying the dolphin show more than the orca show myself! And I’m like you – not very into the rides!
Poor whales :( There was a similar place here in Victoria, although I think it shut down a few years after I was born. Have you seen the documentary Blackfish? Very powerful movie, it was life changing for me!
You’re thinking of Sealand, and it was shut down after a part-time trainer slipped and fell in the water, and was killed by three orcas :( One of those same orcas (Tilikum) went on to kill a trainer at SeaWorld in 2010.
If only it was 1980 and we knew then what we know now…sigh would be a different world for our earth.
Well said Doris :)
When I was very little we would go there once a year, there is tons of pictures at my moms house somewhere. When my girls were younger and we took them and they enjoyed themselves, me not so much way to much walking and my how everything has changed from what is in my memories
Yes, so much as changed! Haven’t been to Marineland in ages but we did enjoy our day at SeaWorld last year… though after seeing the documentary Blackfish, I feel like I need to be better educated about the shows and conditions of the captive animals. That being said, the makers of Blackfish clearly had an agenda and I would love to understand SeaWorld and Marineland’s side, too :)
I seem to recall a day like this in California when I was 8. My Mum’s sister and her family live there…how convenient and so close to Disneyland!
Hmmm California… perhaps San Diego SeaWorld?
Blackfish says it all, … I have pics of Skana doing the same thing
Yes, Blackfish was a really hard documentary to watch…
I don’t think I’ve ever been Marineland. Zoos and aquariums never quite did it for me. On the animal rights issue, I think I feel the same way as you, Lena. There are definitely two sides to every story, and the conditions for animals vary considerably across zoos and aquariums. Many of them do focus a lot of their energy on rescuing animals and conservation, but some of them may place too much emphasis on the profit margin…
I do find myself particularly against circuses that use animals, and would never support them.
I agree Victoria, I’m not one for circuses either… but as you said, the conditions vary considerably.
I’ve been there as a small child but don’t remember either.
Yeah, I wish I had some memories of the place.
Seeing animals in zoos and circuses just makes me sad.
In zoos I don’t mind so much, because often, it’s about conservation and education, but for entertainment, I have to decide I how I feel about it…
I remember going there as a child thinking how neat it was. Now, I realize how cruel it is to these mammals to keep them in pens like that. My heart fills with sorrow whenever I see this.
I think it’s the size of the pens that makes my heart ache, too.
I remember wanting to get drenched during the show, but it never happened when I was a kid….good thing because I wouldn’t want to walk around all soaked. Definitely a lot of memories of Marineland.
I can totally relate! I remember thinking how much fun it would be to get drenched at a dolphin show, but then really, who wants to be wet all day?
My memory of Marineland was of this humongous swimming area but looking back at the photos now it looks so tiny and me so sad to think of those poor animals cooped up for our enjoyment :(
I completely agree :( I always thought they had this super huge pool, but in reality, it’s just a little pen!
I have never been to Marine Land but similar places Vancouver Aquarium it is a magical place for littles.
Yes, aquariums are a great learning environment!
I remember going to Marine Parks as a kid but I would never support whales in captivity now. They always have sad ends it seems! :(
Sad but true :(
I remember going as a kid
I dont care much for seeing our wildlife in captivity,unless of course for some reason they cant live in the wild.