No sooner does Brenda Manning start talking about the scorn she’s endured as a Marineland protester over the years than a woman exits her vehicle, glares at her and proceeds to tell her she should “fight for human lives” instead.
Manning offers a smirk, then points out the woman left a child alone in the car.
For Manning, who has been protesting Marineland since the early ’90s, another day in front of the Niagara Falls theme park means another day of insults from random strangers.
“It kind of makes you lose faith in humanity when people throw things at you,” said the St. Catharines activist. “They’ve thrown packs of ketchup, I’ve been hit by a tomato … it just makes me stronger. I feel sorry for those people.”
On one side of the chain link fence families were lined up to enjoy a day of fun and activities at Marineland. On the other side of the fence were hundreds of animal activists voicing their concerns about the treatment and captivity of animals.
Keeping a close eye on the situation were Niagara Regional Police who were kept busy directing traffic and making sure things remained peaceful.
The annual opening day demonstration at Marineland began at 11 a.m. on Saturday and continued until about 2 p.m. with closing remarks by a number of the participants.
“Opening day is always one of the larger protests and right now we have about 300 people that have come to join us,” said Mike Garrett, organizer and long-time anti captivity advocate from the Niagara area.
The crowd before her roars as Buttercup waddles onto the stage on this late Wednesday afternoon at Marineland’s King Waldorf’s Stadium. The centre of attention, the 900-kilogram walrus twists around and wags her flippers at her trainer’s call, sending people in the nearly packed bleachers clapping and cheering even louder for more.
Despite a protest that saw some 400 people gather outside its gates just days before, business at the embattled Niagara Falls tourist spot was booming, as sunscreen-covered children and their parents flocked toward amusement rides and marine attractions.
It was a mostly soggy Saturday morning and afternoon for the dozens of activists who stood just outside the Marineland property, seeking honks of support for their efforts to raise awareness for captive ocean animals.
Lining up along Marineland Drive, the protestors held up a variety of large, handmade signs with provocative statements to catch the attention of passing motorists, as well as those heading into the amusement, which recently opened for the season.
While many of those there were local, more than a few came from outside Niagara’s borders.
Toronto’s Angela Salewsky said people need to realize how badly the animals are treated, despite what marine park owners say about providing them with 24-hour veterinarian care and an ample food supply.
Two men and a woman climbed onto the observation tower at the Niagara Falls State Park early Tuesday and rappelled 300 feet to unfurl a giant banner protesting what they call dirty oil being imported to the U. S. from Canada.
The trio, whose efforts were broadcast online moments after they began, rappelled from the catwalk beneath the tower.
As they descended, they draped a banner that spelled out “Clean Energy Future,” and “Tar Sands Oil,” with two arrows pointing in opposite directions to indicate tar oil sands are harmful to the environment.
The three rappellers, wearing 40-pound harnesses, apparently climbed onto the catwalk beneath the tower about 6 a. m. to unfurl the banner.
State park police arrived shortly after the action began and tourists gathered to watch as the three dangled for several hours about 100 feet above the bank of the Niagara River.
A drop would have landed them on a paved access road below.
“This is as bad as somebody trying to go over the falls in a barrel,” said Sgt. James Comfort of the park police.
“Everybody has a right to protest but they should do it peacefully in a manner accepted by society.”