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article imageOp-Ed: Marineland's odd response to abuse allegations and fuzzy math

By Elizabeth Batt     Aug 16, 2013 in Environment
Niagara Falls - Recently Digital Journal published an article about two visitors to Marineland who had vowed never to return over the treatment of its animals. Marineland's rebuttal was not only strange, it was downright wacky.
Julie McEwen and Samantha Emery visited the park on August 10 accompanied by another friend and her one year old son. It was a return visit to the park for both of them, but upon observing what they described as "a big open flesh wound," on a seal and an incident involving a trainer kicking a walrus, both park guests vowed never to return.
Marineland's response to the article was swift. In the Facebook comment section beneath the story, Marineland spokesman John Beattie implied that both McEwen and Emery were liars, and then proceeded to attack me for writing their story.
Querying why I had not contacted Marineland, which I conceded was a fair point, I explained that having contacted Marineland in the past, I had never received a response. As can be seen in the exchange below, I generously supplied my e-mail address and offered to publish Marineland's rebuttal.
It has not yet arrived.
Having recovered from the shock of watching Marineland's PR guru label McEwen and Emery as tofu-eating animal activists, I asked Mr. Beattie to focus on the real issue of the story instead, their testimonies.
McEwen herself, who was astonished by Marineland's response, took umbrage over Beattie's statement and fired back:
At this point Mr. Beattie had the perfect opportunity to engage in a conversation with McEwen, explain Marineland's stance, make amends and avert a possible PR nightmare. He chose instead, not to respond.
In yet another instance, a further legitimate question was posed by Carol Knight Davis. She asked:
Mr. Beattie's response (or lack thereof), completely ignored Davis' question:
Having done the research myself earlier this year, Ms. Davis is correct in her estimates. Marineland it seems is guilty of some fuzzy math. Its number of belugas simply don't add up, and neither do some of Beattie's statements.
In a recent interview, Marineland announced the birth of four new beluga whales at its facility. I have heard there were five births but one baby subsequently died. I have asked Mr. Beattie for clarification on this.
In the birth announcement, Mr. Beattie stated, "wild belugas have a very poor birth rate. Only about 20% of babies survive." Yet, less than two months ago in this article, the park said, "two thirds of baby belugas born in the wild do not survive," a 33% survival rate.
If this is the case, then in just two months the survival rate for wild beluga babies has dropped from roughly 33% to 20%. I have asked Mr. Beattie for the scientific source he used to gather that information.
Now stats are one thing, but disappearing belugas is another issue entirely.
At the end of August 2012, Marineland was known to have 41 captive belugas, as described in this video at
By October 18, 2012, a Toronto Star investigation revealed that the number of belugas at the amusement park had decreased by two.
It was Digital Journal that actually broke the story on the deaths of Luna and Charlotte. I contacted Marineland for confirmation and clarification on the causes of the beluga deaths.
I am still awaiting a response.
Forty-one belugas, minus two deaths, leaves 39 whales at Marineland. Factor in the additional four births, the park should be in possession of 43 whales in total.
So why in yesterday's announcement is Marineland now stating that it has only 36 belugas? What happened to the other seven?
I'm hoping Mr. Beattie will offer some clarification on the issue. I would love to believe that this is some gigantic misunderstanding that Marineland will clear up for me. If not, his words may come back to haunt him.
Tofu and true may share the same number of letters, but so do tofu and lies.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about marineland animal abuse, marineland loses two visitors, marineland's fuzzy math, marineland, Animal rights
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