The story of a walrus named Smooshi received international media attention after Phil Demers, a former trainer at Marineland, exposed alleged negligent treatment of the animals and troubling conditions at the notorious marine park in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Smooshi and Demers share an incredibly special bond. It’s believed that Smooshi imprinted on Phil as a young walrus, and she loves him like family. But while Smooshi and Phil were an inseparable pair at Marineland, the facility is seemingly a nightmare for animals.
In 2012, Demers and several staff members spoke out about alleged horrific conditions and animal suffering at the facility. Marineland sued Demers for $1.5 million, absurdly claiming that he was plotting to steal the one-tonne walrus. Finally, Marineland has dropped its decade-long lawsuit against Demers, and the pair had a brief opportunity to reunite.
The settlement agreement for the lawsuit includes a commitment from Marineland to transfer Smooshi and her baby to a new facility, where they can join others of their species.
Marineland, and other places where wild animals are held for entertainment purposes, are no place for animals. Wild animals’ complex needs can never be met in captivity, and most animals suffer greatly when locked up behind bars or confined in tanks.
But hope is on the horizon for captive wild animals in Canada. A new bill called the Jane Goodall Act would protect hundreds of wild and exotic species from the cruelty of captivity—including walruses—and even grant some animals limited legal standing.
Please show your support for this game-changing legislation and help ensure a kinder future for captive wild animals.
Banner: Walrus Pool – Marineland | rchappo2002 | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0