Zeus is a 13-year-old walrus who has spent most of his life captivein Marineland park, Canada.On August 15 there was a video posted to YouTubeshowing Zeus in a performance. He looks emaciatedand seems to be unable to move in a straight line, reports The Dodo. The poor walrus could hardly stay upright.
Sonja, another walrus who also appears in the video, seems to be trying to comfort Zeus by touching him softly with her snout. Both of them had been captured in the wild in Russia, taken brutally from their natural habitat. They are forced to perform at Marineland alongside four other walruses: Pandora, Apollo, Buttercup and Smooshi.
Zeus is still relatively young for a male of his species. In the wild, walruses can live to be 40 years old. This makes Zeus' state of mental and physical health even more worrying. Zeus' former trainer, Philip Demers, agrees, and he told The Dodo:
He's grossly emaciated. 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.
Zeus looks nothing like his fellow walruses who live in the wild. It was the sad state of Zeus' living conditions that actually caused Demers to retire in 2012. He explained:
I've seen him collapse many times. He would delay shows. He has a chronic regurgitation issue.
Since then, Philip has been fighting for his former place of work to be shut down because of the way the animals are treated.
Marineland, on the other hand, is very defensive about the statements. They claim they do not mistreat their animals and that there are regular check-ups from medical teams - that it's impossible that Zeus is unhappy. But they are forgetting a vital piece of the puzzle - just by keeping the wild animals imprisoned between walls, they are already mistreating them.
Marineland retaliated to the accusations by posting their own video of Zeus swimming. But in Demers' opinion, this video was very cleverly filmed to manipulate viewers - it's impossible to see Zeus' body under the water, so his appearance is hidden. Besides his issues with regurgitation, Zeus is also suffering from a chronic loss of teeth.
Walruses are known for being extremely difficult to keep healthy in captivity. They rarely reproduce in parks and their potential in the performance world is limited. This makes their imprisonment all the more absurd.
Zeus' sad story is another tragic example of the harm caused by marine parks, circuses and zoos to the animals' well-being.
Philip Demers is at campaigning for the end of animals in captivity. Sign his petition to become involved in saving captive marine animals.
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