US & Canada

Canada animal cruelty charges against Marineland dropped

A peacock with its tail
Image caption Marineland said it suffered "baseless accusations by ill-informed, radical activists" (Stock image)

Prosecutors have dropped an animal cruelty case against a Canadian wildlife park, citing no reasonable chance of conviction.

Marineland was facing 11 charges for its treatment of bears, elk, red deer, guinea hens and a peacock.

The Ontario province attraction had denied all the allegations, maintaining it was the victim of a smear campaign.

Animal rights officials who investigated Marineland expressed dismay at the prosecutors' decision.

Charges were laid in November 2016 and January 2017, after an inquiry by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA).

The allegations included permitting an animal to be in distress and for failing to provide proper food and standards of care for the animals in question.

No animals were removed from the park.

Marineland welcomed the outcome, saying that it had suffered "baseless accusations by ill-informed, radical activists", as well as reputational damage.

The prosecutor told the OSPCA it could have proceeded on three charges, but it was not in the public interest, said spokesperson Melissa Kosowan.

"We are extremely disappointed in this outcome and feel that this matter is of public interest as all animals rely on humans for appropriate care for their general welfare and the public demands this," Ms Kosowan said.

Marineland told the BBC in November the accusations were made by "a former animal care worker who was fired for poor performance and inappropriate behaviour".

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