Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario has been no stranger to backlash and controversy as of late, and a recent video only sparks it further. Earlier last week, a video posted on Youtube showed 13 year old walrus Zeus emerging on stage for the first time in a while. The sounds throughout the auditorium however weren’t sounds of excitement, but of shock as Zeus appeared to be severely emaciated.
In Need of Help
Quite young by walrus standards (they can live to be about 40), the animal looked sluggish and weak as he shuffled slowly to the edge of the pool before flopping down seemingly exhausted. At one point, another walrus known as Sonja touches his nose with hers in a way that seems to communicate that she’s wondering if he’s alright. Compared to the other walruses visible, it is clear Zeus doesn’t look as healthy.
“You can see his hip bones, his spine. His skin is falling off his bones. His air sack is protruding. There’s virtually no belly”, said Philip Demers, a former senior marine mammal trainer at Marineland. For 12 years Demers worked with the walruses before resigning after disagreements with management over Zeus’ health in 2012.
Since then, he has led a campaign for better animal protection laws in Ontario, starting a petition that has amassed over 145,000 signatures. Although, it hasn’t been smooth sailing; Marineland has been trying to sue him since 2012, alleging that he tried to steal another walrus named Smooshi.
Demers doesn’t deny his love for the animal, “she needs me as much as I need her … she has offered me so many amazing experiences and opportunities, and I value her life as I do the lives of my very own family”, but claims he never tried to steal her.
Marineland responded to the videos’ criticism by claiming he only looks that way because of unflattering angles and camera tricks. They posted a follow-up video of their own, showing Zeus swimming freely in the water while being fed fish from off-screen. But, Demers isn’t convinced. He thinks they purposely put him in the water to cover up most of his emaciated figure.
Marineland also said that he gets regular check-ups from an on-site medical team and independent veterinarians who all believe he is perfectly healthy. A walrus of his age should be around 3,000 pounds, “I’d be shocked if he weighed 1,000”, Demers said.
So what can you do to help? You can begin by signing the petition Demers started here, and you can also donate to Demers gofundme page to help with his ongoing legal battles that have racked up more than $100,000 in legal fees to date. Hopefully, we can put an end to all unwarranted suffering of animals in the near future.
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