TORONTO — Ontario's animal welfare agency has laid five animal cruelty charges against Marineland.
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says the charges against the Niagara Falls, Ont., amusement park relate to peacocks, guinea hens and black bears.
The OSPCA said inspection officers and a veterinarian went to Marineland on Nov. 10 after receiving a complaint about alleged animal cruelty.
"Reports of animal cruelty are taken very seriously," senior OSPCA inspector Steve Toy said in a statement.
"When we receive reports of cruelty that involve wildlife or exotic animals, we will utilize our experts as well as industry experts to assist us with our investigation.''
Over 300 protesters gathered on Portage Road in front of Niagara Falls' Marineland Saturday August 18, 2012. The park has been charged with five counts of animal cruelty by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (Photo: Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Marineland faces one count of permitting a peacock to be in distress, one count of failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for a peacock and two counts for failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for guinea hens.
The facility also faces one count for failing to comply with the prescribed standards of care for about 35 American black bears, including failing to provide adequate and appropriate food and water for them.
Marineland did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"If convicted, they could face a $60,000 fine, a lifetime ban in owning animals and up to two years in jail." — OSPCA spokeswoman Alison Cross
The OSPCA says it didn't remove any animals as part of its investigation, but will continue to monitor the animals as the investigation continues.
OSPCA spokeswoman Alison Cross said further charges are pending.
"If convicted, they could face a $60,000 fine, a lifetime ban in owning animals and up to two years in jail,'' she said.
Marineland first opened in 1963 when owner John Holer started shows with a few sea lions in a small pool in Niagara Falls.
It has since grown into a massive amusement park with one killer whale, dozens of beluga whales, dolphins, walruses and land animals such as deer, bears, birds and fish.
Not the first time the park has been investigated
Marineland has been investigated before.
Former employees went public with allegations of animal abuse at the park among both its marine and land animals in 2012. The OSPCA did not lay charges at the time but issued several orders, which Marineland complied with.
Marineland has long maintained it treats its animals well and has said all allegations of animal abuse are not true.