«Everyone loves Marineland.» This was the line of a catchy jingle advertising the famed Niagara Falls waterpark in Canada Since it was opened in 1961, and few at the time saw any reason to contradict it. The keeping of marine animals in captivity was assumed by the wider public, with little second thought or scrutiny, to be a humane form of grand entertainment for family outings. The park’s founder and owner John Holer, who had cut his teeth working as a circus animal trainer in Europe, had become known as the «King of Niagara» due to his clout in the otherwise economically depressed region creating jobs and harnessing tourist dollars. But below the frothy media hype and wholesome reputation of Marineland, life was far from fun and games for the orcas, belugas, and walruses upon which its shows depended. Director Nathalie Bibeau sets out the story in her documentary The Walrus and the Whistleblower, which was named audience favourite of this year’s online incarnation of Hot Docs.
The walrus whisperer
Ex-trainer Phil Demers called out malpractice and animal mistreatment at …
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