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WTF Wednesday: Marineland sea lion obituary

Hillary Di Menna

On June 11 Marineland released a statement saying Baker the sea lion died. The first three sentences of the four-paragraph document talk about the animal friend. He died of natural causes at 29 years old; he may have been the world’s oldest sea lion. The rest reads a little passive aggressively, perhaps against the protesters outside of the park? The ones Marineland warns patrons against as being “members of a fringe, radical animal liberation front.”

In Baker’s sort-of obituary it says, “In the wild sea lions live to about 10–in aquariums usually no more than 15.” So take that radicals demanding “the closure of all zoos and aquariums–denying children the opportunity to interact with amazing animals they would likely never see in the wild.”

“Let’s stop and think about [that he lived 29 years] for a moment. He lived twice the average lifespan. If a human did that he or she would have been a teenager when Canada became a nation, would have witnessed the first automobiles, been astonished at flight and journeys to the moon–not to mention the creation of the internet.”

This part of the statement reads a little weird. I think it may be addressing those that care about the animal abuse documented in a Toronto Star investigation that started a year ago. Those who care about the quality of the water the animals live in or an adequate staff amount, which was just fine in Baker’s case–he had “constant medical attention when he needed it.”

The OSPCA issued seven orders against the amusement park, but we can rest assured Baker’s death was not the park’s fault. Yes, a baby beluga named Skoot was killed by two older whales, a death that could have been protected had there been enough staff to help. Sure, maybe Kiska the killer whale’s tail has been bleeding on and off for months and the health of Smooshi the walrus is deteriorating (The animals’ former trainers are now being sued by the company for speaking out, so that takes care of that problem.) And there is reason to believe the park’s owner, John Holer, shot and killed the neighbour’s two Labrador retrievers. But this defensive statement is about Baker the sea lion; it has nothing to do about animal abuse allegations. Of course not.

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