Twiggy the waterskiing squirrel is being featured at the Vancouver International Boat Show. (Twiggy Inc)

Waterskiing squirrel at Vancouver boat show irks animal rights group

Twiggy, an eastern grey squirrel, is a featured attractions at this year’s Vancouver International Boat Show

A waterskiing squirrel by the name of Twiggy has found herself at the centre of controversy during one of the country’s largest boat shows being held this week in Vancouver.

Twiggy, an eastern grey squirrel, has been entertaining children about the importance of water safety – all while riding small waves on a pair of water skis, for 40 years. It’s one of the featured attractions at this year’s Vancouver International Boat Show, which sees roughly 30,000 boat enthusiasts.

But animal activists with Life Force Society are calling for an end to “these types of animal exploitation.”

The group says that the show should be prohibited as it goes against Vancouver’s bylaws.

“Using wildlife under the guise of ‘water safety’ is not as effective or educational as using consenting human actors,” activist Peter Hamilton said in a news release. “It is about human safety!”

ALSO READ: Whale plays with boat’s anchor line at Vancouver Island marina

In an email to Black Press Media, a city staff member said that because the eastern grey squirrel is not native to B.C., it is not technically considered wildlife under city bylaws. However, there is a bylaw that does prohibit businesses from using rodents in competitions, exhibitions, performances and events.

The city said it is investigating the matter.

Twiggy was recently told she cannot return to Toronto after performing at a similar event last month, as the city has since passed a new bylaw which bans keeping a squirrel in “captivity.”

A spokesperson with Laura Ballance Media Group, which is speaking on behalf of the Vancouver boat show, said in an emailed statement that organizers obtained and complied with all federal licensing required for Twiggy to come to town, including veterinary oversight of the squirrel.

“The presentation has been very well received by the children who it is designed to educate about water and life jacket safety as well as their parents, and we have had nothing but positive feedback,” Krystle Landert told Black Press Media.

“One of the core goals of the show, which provides a crucial showcase for the hundreds of small, largely family owned businesses across our province, is to educate our guests about water safety.”

This isn’t the first time the Vancouver-based boat show has included animals – in 1967, organizers placed a southern resident killer whale named Walter in a pool for the duration of the event. After the show was over, the whale was sold to the Vancouver Aquarium Society and renamed as Skana.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Clearwater mayor unimpressed with Forest Minister’s inaction on local tenure transfer

Mayor Merlin Blackwell says he’s ready to lead delegation to Victoria

Editor, The Times

Local vet valued for compassion and professionalism

Editor, The Times

Re: The World Thru the Eyes of the Rambling Man

Last weekend on the ice

This week’s featured player is #6 Zoey Fehr from the Clearwater atom Icehawks

District councillor trying to bring Men’s Sheds to Clearwater

Men’s Shed program gives members the opportunity to socialize and take on community projects

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Most Read