Without doubt or argument, 2013 was our biggest, boldest and best campaign year yet. Although we battled in the court system the entire year, we still managed to grow, build pressure and hold the largest demonstration in the history of opposition to this park (and the second largest in Canadian history!)
Below are a few highlights of this years campaign to reflect on, a day before we announce our 2014 campaign year.
New Years Day 2013 Demonstration: We threw Marineland for a loop by holding a New Years Demo to start the year last year and to announce “Operation Shut it Down.” The demonstration was small, but set the tone for the year and sent a message to Marineland that the world is still watching even during the off season. This one goes down as the first winter/off season demonstration in the history of the park.
Global Awareness Week Photos: To keep interest up in the offseason we announced the very first “Global Awareness Week.” Alongside events on the ground and in other communities we put a call out for people to send us photos calling for Marineland to shut down. We were swamped. Hundreds of photos came in from all over the world - Australia, Florida, Finland, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland, Mexico and all across Canada and the United States. It was amazing to see the response and photos kept coming in the entire year. It was also great to see big name athletes like Leilani Munter and James “Lightning” Wilks take part, as well as bands like Anti-Flag. We look forward to doing this again this year!
Record Setting Opening Day Demonstration: May 18, 2013 saw the largest demonstration in the history of opposition to Marineland (breaking our 2012 Closing Day record) and the second largest animal advocacy demonstration in Canadian history (and the largest since 1984!). We threw everything we had at the park - we thunderclapped, we set a new Guinness World Record for Origami’s displayed for young advocate Vijay, we chanted and we created a huge buzz. This was the result of so many people taking time out of their busy schedules to take a stand against Marineland and against the captive animal industry. It was a beautiful day and we look forward to repeating it in 2014!
Marineland Animal Defense Kicked Out of Niagara Falls Council: Niagara Falls City Council has never been a friend to captive animals at Marineland. Two leases of public land to Marineland confirm this. We took to Council in May though on a separate issue - to hold them accountable for the eviction of 47 families from the Green Oaks Trailer Park. That eviction notice was served by Marineland Canada and residents still feel that there were steps Council could have taken to stop that eviction in 2011. When City Clerk Dean Iorfida came to our opening day demonstration and claimed that the eviction never happened - we had to respond. We asked for a minute of Council’s time so that ex-resident Connie Topolinski could speak. They shut down council and booted us out. In the process though, we finally got local press to cover this issue and talk about the role Council has played in supporting not only this eviction, but anything Marineland comes to Council for.
Marineland Animal Defense Joins Greenpeace and Over One Hundred Other Public Advocacy Organizations to Call for Anti-SLAPP Legislation: It made perfect sense for us this year to not only fight our own legal battle against Marineland, but to work with others to fight to protect public advocacy for all Ontarians. Our advocacy has never been about one specific animal, one specific park, or one specific issue - this is about speaking truth to power and organizing to change practices that we can no longer support. We look forward to continuing this fight in 2014 until we see the passage of Bill 83 - the Public Participation Act.
Social Media Tueday Goes Viral: Our anti-captivity designs and videos have increased greatly in reach and quality in 2013. Our images have been seen globally, translated and ensured that Marineland stays on everyone’s mind when it comes to opposing the captive animal industry. Our most popular images have had a facebook reach alone of over 100,000 views!
Largest Empty the Cages International Demonstration: This year some great anti-captivity advocates came up with the idea of a network day of demonstrations at captive animal facilities. It was a great statement of global opposition of the captive animal industry. We were happy to take part and also host the largest demonstration of the day!
Liberals Increase OSPCA Funding from $500,000 to $5.5 Million/Year: Although it was not the announcement we wanted - the Provincial Liberals giving $5 million more a year to the OSPCA was an open admission that their investigation of Marineland was flawed because of a lack of capacity (we told you so) and also showed that our public advocacy is making a difference for animals and changing practices within the industry. Although it’s not what we want, and we won’t stop until we get it, this announcement was a psychological blow for Marineland. We followed up on this announcement with a demonstration and mass call-in at the office of Madeleine Meilleur to demand closure of the wild capture loophole.
Festival for the Animals: For four days in 2013 we organized in opposition to the captive animal industry in Ontario. Closing day demonstrations at Marineland Canada and African Lion Safari - alongside walkers from Safari Niagara to Marineland Canada. The demonstration was a great statement - but so was our lighted highway sign “Shut Down Marineland” and the now famous “Tubman” - anti captivity advocate and M.A.D. organizer Jeremy Larivee who spent three days in a tub outside of Marineland in protest. All of the events were a great reminder to Marineland that we are not going anywhere - no matter how hard they try and use the legal system as a weapon and scare people they cannot stop people from caring about captive animals!