The tourist attraction in Niagara Falls, Ont., said the move to a facility that keeps other walruses in captivity was for the good of Smooshi and his offspring Koyuk.
In addition, the park revealed that it had reached an agreement with one of its former animal trainers, Phil Demers, who later became an animal welfare activist. A legal saga opposed the two camps for almost 10 years.
Walruses will be moved as soon as possible, promised Marineland in a press release. The location of their new home, however, has not been disclosed.
Phil Demers said he was delighted with this outcome, but he mentions that the long legal process was trying.
There’s excitement, but I’m still digesting the newshe commented.
This process traumatized me. I have issues that I need to work on, but I’m looking forward to my rebirth.
In 2013, Marineland filed a lawsuit against Demers alleging he broke into the park with other activists in October 2012. The facility also claimed he was seeking to kidnap the walrus Smooshi.
Phil Demers denied breaking into the park and wanting to remove the one-ton walrus. He filed a countersuit for defamation and abuse of process.
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Marineland says it has been keeping walruses since 2001. The animals come from Russia and some of them are orphans or in poor health in their country of origin, according to park management.
Three walruses, Sonja, Zeus and Apollo, were welcomed to Marineland in 2001. Three more, Pandora, Buttercup and Buddy, arrived the following year.
Smooshi and Azul arrived from Russia in 2004. Smooshi was only 18 months old.
Since then, all the other walruses have died. Four have been found dead in the past five years. Smooshi gave birth to Koyuk on June 1, 2020.
In 2008, Phil Demers was the subject of national media reports due to his special relationship with Smooshi who followed him around the amusement park. The animal reportedly bonded to him when she was very young and new to the facility.
But the employee walked out in May 2012 and accused Marineland of animal abuse. The company has always denied mistreating its animals.
The two sides have been in a public feud for nearly 10 years now.
Phil Demers demanded the transfer of Smooshi to another park and had not seen the animal for more than 10 years, until Wednesday.
I am very happy. I was able to return to Marineland – for one last time and without a red carpet – when I never thought it possiblehe told The Canadian Press.
Walrus and his former trainer were able to briefly reconnect as this visit was included in the settlement with Marineland.
This out-of-court settlement comes a few weeks before the scheduled start of the trial.
Mr. Demers recognizes Marineland’s evolution towards education, conservation and research as well as its commitment to improving the well-being of its animalsthe park said.
Mr. Demers recognizes that Marineland must take care of its animals and that there is no simple or obvious solution to relocate themcontinued the establishment.
Marineland sold and transferred five beluga whales to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut in May 2021. One whale, Havok, died in the months that followed and another, Havana, died last February.
The US government has launched an investigation to determine the circumstances of these deaths.
Last December, a charge was brought against Marineland in connection with the use of dolphins and whales for entertainment shows without permission.
The amusement park countered that they were more of an educational presentation aimed at helping Canadians learn more about marine animals.
This is the first time the 2019 federal law that bans dolphin and whale shows will be tested in court.
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Marineland will transfer its last two walruses to another facility
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