NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. – Ontario’s Ministry of Environment is investigating allegations reported by the Toronto Star that Marineland has disposed of its dead animals in mass graves.

The newspaper reported there are four mass graves throughout the park, which is currently closed for the winter. The Star also reported Marineland has no permits to do so.

A park spokeswoman told The Buffalo News that an inspector from the Ministry of the Environment came to Marineland on Thursday morning “looking for information on animal interment at our park.”

Park officials complied and cooperated, according to the statement. “[The inspector] viewed the site where we have, sadly, had to bury old and sick animals who have died here through the years. Another team will arrive [today]. They, too, will be welcomed here. We expect that their inspection will be completed quickly,” the spokeswoman said.

“… It is a sad truth that animals in zoos and aquariums die at the end of their life spans. We have always treated our animals with love and respect both in life and death, and we do the same with their remains. We have always paid the strictest attention to the law in how they are buried.”

The Star said environmental officials were concerned about the proximity of the graves to the Welland River, which flows into the Niagara River.