I received a letter this week in response to my last editorial, which suggested picketing Marineland as something worthwhile NOTL’s friendly neighbourhood horse protesters could do.
The letter, from former Toronto councillor Gloria Luby, got me thinking when it mentioned she is an animal lover who has visited the park several times.
I started to wonder if maybe, perhaps, I had some incorrect perceptions of Marineland — or at the very least of the obscure positive effect it might have had on seven-year-old me.
I, like the writer of the letter, am an animal lover — only now I couldn’t picture myself paying money to go to an aquatic park, or really anywhere that keeps wild animals for viewing and entertainment. Something about it would feel wrong. Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of BBC’s Planet Earth. Regardless, as I sipped away on carnival soda and chomped candy corn, I wouldn’t be able to help think about how those caged animals were helping the owners suck even more out of my wallet, and how more money means more caged animals.
Yet I attended the park when I was a child, and I admit to having fond memories of my time there, which made me ask myself: Where did my own passion for animals come from? And is it possible that, perhaps, those childhood trips to Marineland played a part in it all?
Would I be the same if I hadn’t had experiences up-close with animals at a young age? Would I even watch shows like Planet Earth if I hadn’t gone to places like African Lion Safari, or the Animal Kingdom in Disney World?
Seven-year-old me wasn’t walking through these types of places thinking of them as prisons for animals. At Marineland, I was looking at the deer, putting a quarter in the food machines and tossing pellets on the ground to get them to come closer so I could see it even closer. I was fascinated.
Perhaps I was young and ignorant. Or perhaps was I learning to love and appreciate animals even more. Perhaps having pets and watching Disney would have accomplished the same thing.
I guess the point is, it made me wonder.
For now, I still won’t be going to Marineland.