Any Canadian who has picked up a paper or watched the news in the last nine months knows Marineland has been in a lot of hot, over-chlorinated water since 15 ex-employees decided to speak out about animal abuse and neglect at the park this past August. Following the Toronto Star-led expose, a number of pre-announced inspections were conducted, including an investigation by the OSPCA, which dragged on for eight months and did nothing but give Marineland the time and space necessary to launch a number of major lawsuits targeting key whistleblowers, community organizers and even the Toronto Star.
Despite all of the negative publicity, Marineland remained in business until its closing day on Oct 7, 2012, when more than 800 people showed up at the park; a welcoming committee for would-be park visitors, kindly imploring them to spend their hard-earned money entertaining their families elsewhere. The demonstration gained international news coverage, and supporters from across the world were hopeful it would truly be Marineland's last day.
Unfortunately, it wasn't. Despite October's epic demonstration and all of the publicity surrounding the ex-employee testimonies, Marineland managed to survive the winter, making two desperate additions. First, a brand new fence to keep peaceful protestors as far away as possible from their beleaguered profit centre, and second, a new PR bigwig whose first order of business appeared to be launching American-style attacks ads against their opposition.
Marineland is set to open again this Saturday, crossing its fingers that people will have forgotten about the suffering of the animals it holds captive, and eager to start making money.
This is why we need you (yes you!) to be at the Marineland Opening Day Demonstration on Saturday. Because despite what the regulators and investigators and even the petition-makers would have you believe, nothing is more powerful than real people taking a real stand, in numbers too big to be ignored. Marineland wants nothing more than to silence and intimidate its critics, which is why the most important thing we can do is make it abundantly clear that we are not quiet and we are not afraid. Our laws, regulations and enforcement may have failed the animals and employees at Marineland, but we won't.
So what's your excuse? Busy? Live too far away? Never been to a demonstration? To help you get past those concerns, I've prepared these five reasons you should be at Marineland this Saturday.
1) You Want To Make History
With more than 1,000 people already expected to attend, the Marineland Opening Day Demonstration is set to become the largest animal advocacy demonstration in Canada's history. Each person who shows up makes a huge difference in our ability to get Marineland's, and the world's, attention.
2) You Want To Take the sting out of Marineland SLAPPs
Since the Toronto Star stories broke, Marineland has launched multiple strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) intended to encumber the 15 ex-employees who have been courageous enough to speak out against the park. Marineland has also targeted organizers, and even the Toronto Star. It is imperative that the legal system be used to hold Marineland accountable for its behaviour, not to silence legitimate opposition. Attending on Saturday is communicating solidarity with targeted whistleblowers and organizers, who need your support, now more than ever.
3) You Want To Support The Children
Children all across the country are taking a stand for the animals at Marineland, with many of them expected to attend the Opening Day Demonstration on Saturday. One of these inspiring young advocates is Vijay Singh, who has folded over 1,000 Origami whales for the animals at Marineland. In Japanese folklore, if you fold 1,000 origamis, you will be granted one wish. Vijay's wish is to free the animals at Marineland. The current record for most Origami Whales publicly displayed is 1,500. With help, Vijay can break this record and have his efforts officially recognized! For a guide on how to make whale origami, click here.
4) It's a Safe, Family-Friendly Event
As anyone who attended the Closing Day Demonstration at Marineland in October can attest, Marineland Animal Defense (M.A.D.) takes great care to organize demonstrations that are legal, safe, inclusive, fun and family-friendly. You don't have to bring a sign and you don't have to yell or chant. Marshals will be on site to make sure everything runs smoothly and the only thing you really need to bring is yourself!
5) You Don't Live That Far Away
A significant proportion of the people who will read this post live less than 100 miles from Marineland. Marineland steals animals away from their families and natural homes, thousands of miles away. Making the trip on their behalf is a beautiful way to show solidarity with what they've been forced to endure, and since the demonstration is only two hours long, most of you will be home in time for dinner! For those of you without a car/ride or access to public transit, bus information can be found here.
So if you're like me, and the suffering of those animals brought you to your knees, I hope you'll let Saturday bring you to your feet, surrounded by hundreds (and possibly thousands) of people, just like you, taking a stand.
Here's hoping I see you there!
If you can't attend in person, be a virtual supporter with Thunderclap that day.