NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO -- We now know what the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums has to say after inspections of the Marineland park over the summer.
The group's report says there's no evidence of abuse or neglect.
But there are some lingering concerns about the water quality.
The group plans on a series of unannounced inspections over the next few weeks to make sure the water concerns are being taken care of.
Protests over conditions at Marineland took place outside the park last summer.
Here is the press release sent from the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums:
The Accreditation Commission of Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums ( CAZA) has conducted a special investigation into allegations that the welfare of animals at Marineland Canada has been negatively affected by water quality problems and inadequate staffing levels and that these problems were not appropriately addressed over a period of time. A three person inspection team including two veterinary experts conducted a site inspection on August 23rd, and subsequently interviewed relevant witnesses and examined internal water logs and medical records.
The Commission has concluded that at the time of the site inspection the animals in question in the Marineland collection, including the marine mammals were in overall good health and there was no evidence of animal abuse, that water quality in all the pools was very good, and it appeared that staffing levels were adequate.
The Commission found that Marineland's veterinary program is comprehensive and includes regular veterinary inspections and treatment of animals where appropriate. The veterinarians are experienced, competent and assisted by specialists as needed.
Detailed examination of water quality logs and animal health records as well as interviews with some ex-employees, however, raise questions about how effectively the water quality systems in three of the pools are working. In examining the logs there were several times when levels exceeded industry standards and while each incident was brought under control, the Commission expects to see a solution that will maintain water quality in the longer term. While the water quality issues appeared in some instances to impact on the wellbeing of the animals in the pools in question, there was no evidence of animal abuse and the animals affected were under veterinary care and treatment.
The Commission and Marineland have agreed that Marineland will undertake an independent, external inspection of its water quality management systems for the pools in question. The engineering evaluation will be based partially on a thorough updating by Marineland of its water quality management protocols and is to be completed as soon as reasonably possible. CAZA is to be consulted regarding the qualifications of the evaluators, and is to be provided with a copy of the resulting report. Marineland has stated that they welcome this study and will use the results to ensure that the systems are entirely capable of providing an appropriate environment for the marine collection.
Until the engineering study is complete and action taken to address its recommendations, if any, CAZA will conduct a series of unannounced inspections on a four to six week schedule to assess water quality through a review of the water logs and a physical inspection of all of the pools. CAZA inspectors will also assess staffing levels to verify that animal welfare and staff safety are ensured, will examine all the animals in the enclosures in question, review with veterinary and animal care staff the status of animals receiving treatment, ensure that water quality management protocols are being properly implemented, and will report to the Commission on the outcome of the inspections.
CAZA represents the 29 leading zoological parks and aquariums in Canada. Its purpose is to promote the welfare of zoo and aquarium wildlife, to advance related science and conservation, and to foster public engagement in the preservation of our natural heritage.
The foundation of the approach to animal care taken by Canada's accredited zoos and aquariums is the CAZA Accreditation Program, based on standards to which each Member is subject, spelling out in detail the measures needed to ensure the first rate care needed for the wellbeing of all the animals for which each Member is responsible.
CAZA standards deal with every aspect of the zoo and aquarium, especially the wellbeing of the animals - nutrition, enclosures, security, exercise and enrichment, veterinary care, contact with visitors - everything that impacts on the animal. The standards required for accreditation are continuously updated to ensure they meet the highest internationally recognized standards for the care and wellbeing of animals.
The implementation of CAZA's standards is ensured through the association's Accreditation Commission. Headed by professionals who have years of experience in animal care and all other aspects of zoo and aquarium operation, the commission regularly inspects member facilities. All CAZA members must have their accreditation renewed - through a thorough inspection - at least once every five years.
Any variation from approved standards can lead to re-inspection resulting in new requirements, or in extreme cases, to removal of accreditation.
CAZA is the national voice of the zoo and aquarium community in Canada. Representing the 29 leading zoos and aquariums in Canada its purpose is to promote the welfare of animals, to advance related science and conservation and to foster public engagement in the preservation of our natural heritage. For more information visit www.caza.ca