‘Walrus Whisperer’ silenced by Marineland authorities
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • February 15, 2013 @ 11:47am
Here’s former Marineland mammal trainer Philip Demers’ final line in his Huffington Post Canada blog in Sept. 2012: “...Pack your bags Smooshi—I’m coming back for you.”
After leaving his job because he claimed that several mammals, including a walrus named Smooshi whom he held dear, were mistreated, Demers was true to his word, even if his recent threats have him in serious trouble.
The Chippawa, Ont. native now faces a $1.5 million lawsuit in damages and for “inappropriate conduct in relation to employees, former employees and veterinarians of the marine-animal park,” the St. Catharine’s Standard reports.
The Standard further reports that Demers initially tried to pitch Marineland on a reality show called the ‘Walrus Whisperer’ in 2011 focused on his relationship with Smooshi, but park authorities rejected the idea, and Demers eventually left his position in April 2012 due to what he believed to be mistreatment of the park’s animals.
Was it because he referred to himself as the “Kanye West of animal training”? We may never know.
Since, the former Marineland employee has been on a fight for justice, and Demers points to 15 other former Marineland employees who agree with the mammal trainer that the Ontario water park mistreats its animals in several ways, most notably through excess chlorine in the water.
ABC News delves into greater detail about the park’s cleanliness and animal treatment, reporting that Demers’ claims are unsubstantiated:
In response to the allegation, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) launched an inspection of the park in November 2012. The commission found nothing to support the allegations, according to the report, which is on Marineland’s website.
The agency’s report concluded that “none of the animals in the water appeared to be experiencing any discomfort as a result of being in the pools” and the “staff level appeared to [be] sufficient to conduct the needed training, do the scheduled feedings and maintain cleanliness” in the areas visited. The inspection also failed to find evidence that the orca “Kiska” was experiencing chronic bleeding in the tail area.
Here’s how Demers depicts his relationship with the walrus, who arrived in Canada in 2004, through his Huffington Post blog:
I had imprinted (as scientists, and Twilight fans alike would put it) on Smooshi the walrus. I prefer to say she came to see me as a trusted and loving family member. I had become a maternal figure, if you will (insert jokes here). She would follow me to the ends of the earth, without any coaxing of added stimulus or training.
Demers, who’s also known for winning $50,000 for his achievements at Wipeout Canada in 2011, now has the opportunity to file a counter-suit, the Standard concludes.
(Header photo courtesy of the Niagara Falls Review).