March 21, 1978
Welland, Ontario, Canada
|Occupation||Marine Mammal Trainer|
Philip Demers (aka "The Walrus Whisperer") (born March 21, 1978) is a former professional marine mammal trainer at MarineLand in Niagara Falls, Ontario. He is best known for his unique relationship with a captive walrus named Smooshi.
Demers' animal training career began in 2000 at MarineLand where he was employed until August 2012. In 2007, Demers became the focus of mass media attention regarding his unique relationship with a captive Pacific walrus named Smooshi. Their relationship garnered the attention of such television programs as CBC's The National, Inside Edition, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Demers left his position at Marineland citing allegations of negligent treatment of the animals and unhealthy conditions. As of fall 2015, Marineland continued to pursue legal action against Demers and other former employees who had claimed deleterious conditions at Marineland.
A news article on 10 August 2017 stated that the park had filed a total of nine lawsuits against activists, former employees and the media since 2012. None of the suits has been resolved in court. On the same date, all of the 11 charges laid by the OSPCA for animal cruelty against Marineland were dropped by the prosecutor who believed that there was no hope of convictions on eight of them. Demers expressed his disappointment: "My jaw's on the floor. It always is. I've tempered my expectations, especially when it comes to this justice system, and especially with the OSPCA. Quite frankly, I find them completely useless."
Later in the day on 10 August, updated news reports added insights as to alternative proposed by the Crown Attorney: the public interest would be better served by a system of ongoing monitoring of the animals' condition at the park.
- "Mayor defends Marineland". Welland Tribune. 15 Aug 2012. Retrieved 15 Aug 2012.
- "Warm walrus love". Toronto Star. 13 Feb 2007. Retrieved 11 Apr 2011.
- "Interview: Smooshi the Love Struck Walrus". Inside Edition. Retrieved 14 Apr 2011.
- "Animal advocates hold protest outside of Marineland". CTV News. 18 Aug 2012. Retrieved 18 Aug 2012.
- Diebel, Linda (15 Aug 2012). "Marineland animals suffering, former staffers say". Toronto Star. Retrieved 21 Dec 2015.
- Demers, Philip (1 Oct 2015). "Bill 52 Won't Protect Past Whistleblowers Like Me". Huffington Post. Retrieved 21 Dec 2015.
- Casey, Liam (August 10, 2017). "All animal cruelty charges dropped against Marineland". Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
- "Chippawa resident wins big at Wipeout Canada". Niagara Falls Review. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
- "Everyone Loves Marineland". (Interview with Jesse Brown). Canadaland, ep. 113. 21 Dec 2015.
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