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They're Out of the News, But Marineland's Animals Still Need You

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Marineland: Ontario's Farm of Games.

By now, you know all you need to about Marineland. You know that it's a house of horrors for the animals that live there.

You've seen the videos and photos. You've heard the disturbing first-hand accounts. You've attended rallies in record numbers, and you plan to rally again.

You've listened to steady TV and radio play of that impressionable jingle, and the regret the artist who sings it, expressed following the revelations.

You know of the injustices the now former Green Oaks residences have endured, and of the tragedies that followed. You remember Marineland's premature statement of innocence. You've heard them first try to defend their practices, and the deafening silence that has since ensued.

You know of Marineland owner John Holer's friends in high-up places, and his seeming invincibility in the community. You've bathed in Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur's tears. You've stewed in her fury.

You heard Premier Dalton McGuinty acknowledge the disturbing allegations, and promise to follow up. You've "liked" and "retweeted" in droves, wrote your MP's and MPP's, and even called the office of the Premier (416-325-1941).

You've written and read blogs, and hopefully you have learned of Smooshi the walrus. You've read the pleas for more resources by the OSPCA, and you've wondered why they haven't yet laid charges.

Now what?

Some time has elapsed since the initial uproar, and much of it has been spent sending kids back to school, catching a TIFF film or two, and losing money on the NFL Buffalo Bills.

Meanwhile, it's business as usual at Marineland, and for the animals this means a continued vulnerable existence within those fences, inside those decrepit buildings, behind those bars, and in that water.

We now find ourselves in a scary limbo.

Inaction by the authorities on animal abuse issues is nothing new. To my knowledge, OSPCA has yet to contact any of the whistleblowing former employees, and the public is still waiting for an update on the cruelty investigation. Many observers are beginning to fear that the issue will languish on the backburner, with the heat carefully reduced until the season ends, the snow falls, and the ice starts to set in.

Or worse.

What if the OSPCA provides Marineland with a clean bill of health? What if the industry-run Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums continues to protect Marineland? Will you be satisfied with this?

It's widely known now that Ontario has no laws regulating animals confined in zoos and aquariums. This situation is archaic, ineffective, and embarrassing. What is keeping the Government from addressing these issues and investing some interest in protecting the animals that have served this province so well?

On Monday, September 17 I will be visiting Queen's Park with petitions in hand, to remind the Premier that 75,000 have demanded action. This will be followed up by what I hope to be a historic end-of-season demonstration at Marineland on October 7.

Public awareness just isn't enough. If we don't start acting on our convictions, then our province will continue to regress in a world where, as Ghandi said, "nations are judged by the way its animals are treated."

I can't help but feel that we are on the cusp of something so special, so justified, and so necessary, and that if we maintain the necessary pressure and noise levels, maybe we can achieve something that the animals, our family of passionate animal lovers, and fellow Ontarians all so desperately need -- a victory.

Will you be there?