Marineland, the controversial Canadian waterpark and tourist attraction located in Niagara Falls, Ontario, confirmed that one walrus has died only days after two deer were killed in an opening day stampede. The announcement confirming the walrus' death comes just days after two deers were killed as the result of a stampede caused by "demonstrators".
The beloved walrus, Apollo, died of a heart attack at the end of last month. He was 18 years old and is reportedly the fourth walrus to die at Marineland in the past two years. According to CTV News, Marineland stated in a press release, "Even with the immediate intervention of multiple medical marine mammal experts, we are sad to report that Apollo passed away."
Marineland is now closely monitoring the health of its last remaining walrus, Smooshi. According to the waterpark, Smooshi has been continuously undergoing "extensive additional checkups to confirm the status of her health."
"Our team is providing her with additional enrichment and care while plans for her future at the park are finalized," the park reported. "Smooshi continues to show her love and adoration for her favourite marine mammal trainers and appeared to be in good spirits when taking to the stage at Marineland’s educational presentation on Saturday’s opening day."
The other walruses that were residing at the waterpark, Zeus, Buttercup, and Sonja, all predeceased Apollo. Last year on Boxing Day, Zeus died of natural causes. Buttercup passed away in the winter of 2017-2018. Finally, the walrus, Sonja, was suddenly killed by a rare abdominal aneurysm in May 2017.
The news comes of Apollo's death comes several days after Marineland's opening weekend. Marineland alleges that two deer died after two men intentionally initiated a deer stampede on Saturday at its opening day. Although various animal rights groups were staked out at the Niagara Falls attraction, Marineland claims it had its busiest opening day in a decade.
In a statement, Marineland explains, "These individuals laughed in the face of staff as they tried to get them to stop. They refused all instruction by staff and resisted efforts to remove them from the Deer Park. We are all upset by this terrible act against innocent animals."
The statement continues, "In order to protect our animals, we are closing the Deer Park to make modifications to prevent this type of incident from ever happening again."
Ontario SPCA and Humane Society currently advocate for the reassessment of Ontario's animal welfare legislation, claiming the laws are failing to protect animals that are kept in captivity for commercial use.
"The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society has formed a task force dedicated to developing new provincial animal welfare legislation that reflects the need for both greater protection and social justice for animals," the organization confirmed in a statement to CTV News.
The statement continued, "The task force is reviewing the need for animals to be recognized under law as sentient beings to acknowledge their ability to feel, to have subjective experiences and to be treated accordingly, rather than as property."