A Walrus’ Love Story: How Smoochy Ended Up From Canada To… Abu Dhabi

By | May 18, 2023

Smutsi was just 18 months old when she came to Canada from Russia in 2004. It was one of the few seahorses at Marineland, one of the most famous marine parks in Canada.

Opened in 1961, Marineland was the park where Keiko, the famous orca from the movie Free Willy, began her “career” by performing for the public in the early 1980s. Scene of angry protests by activists for animal rights, but also an investigation by local police and civil services and the United States government.

After a struggle of more than a decade, a former animal trainer achieved what he wanted, that is, to remove his beloved walrus from the Marineland Zoo, after a series of complaints for mistreatment of the marine mammal.

Now Smutsi is leaving for a new life some 11,000 kilometers from the place where she lived trapped for almost twenty years.

bond of love

Phil Demers met Smoochy when he first came to Canada. At 22, he had just gotten a job and was more of a shy young man than an experienced and assertive trainer who cared about the life of a huge marine mammal in an artificially confined environment.

“When I started, I was just like everyone else. I was trying to impress my superiors, who apparently knew what they were doing,” he says.

But he soon found out how Marineland treated its animals. Also, she started develops an unusually strong bond with Smoochy.

After a medical procedure, during which Smoochy was calmed only by Demers’ presence, the animal began to see him as a father, following him everywhere and always.

the two passed inseparable and the young instructor began to learn Smoochy in depth.

“He had a great sense of humor,” he says, adding that he often purposely pulled pranks on her to get her attention.

“She was hyper-aware of everything and the environment around her. You always had to be ready for her banter and banter, as she always kept us on our toes,” she says.

At the same time, Demers had begun to see the I misspelled in the park, neglect and abuse behavior that he says he could not tolerate, insisting that the park was using the animal for show and entertainment purposes. He resigned in 2012. And ever since, he has been campaigning to get Smutsi out of there.

the justification

after ten years litigation, legal battles and more than $185,000 in expensesDemers made the dream of freeing Smoochy come true.

Last year, Marineland agreed to drop the lawsuit, agreeing to relocate Smoochy and her baby, Kayuk, saying it “was in the best interest of the seahorses.”

The two marine mammals were brought to Sea World, a new park in Abu Dhabi, which opens on May 23.

Now a postman and animal rights activist, Demer laments how stands against the captivity of animals and admits that he’s finally happy that Smoochy is thousands of miles from Marineland.

Walruses, listed as an endangered species, are generally found at the North Pole and near the Arctic Ocean.

In Abu Dhabi, where the average temperature exceeds 35 degrees Celsius in the hottest months, Smoochy will be housed, “along with other walruses from around the world,” as the Sea World statement says, in an air-conditioned indoor environment for the entire length of time.

“They will offer the animals new things, like games or learning activities, to keep their brains busy, which is really important for social animals,” says marine mammal researcher Dr. Sean Noren.

Source: BBC

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