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

Anxiety, depression among student priorities for Sicamous school wellness centre

Initiative provides comfortable space to care for students at Eagle River Secondary

Shuswap woman creates stress-reducing cuffs for Alzheimer’s patients

Personal connection to disease adds meaning to endeavour

WEB POLL: Would you like to see a new highway built between B.C. and Central Alberta?

Building another highway through the mountains would shave 95 km from Kamloops to Red Deer

Man accused in Salmon Arm 7-Eleven fire pleads not guilty to breach of bail

Supreme Court trial will decide arson charges while Provincial Court will look at breach charge

Okanagan divers ready to take on 2020 B.C. Winter Games

The athletes have been training four days a week

B.C.’s soda drink tax will help kids lose weight, improve health, says doctor

Dr. Tom Warshawski says studies show sugary drinks contribute to obesity

A&W employees in Ladysmith get all-inclusive vacation for 10 years of service

Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all-expenses-paid vacations

B.C. mom’s complaint about ‘R word’ in children’s ministry email sparks review

In 2020, the ‘R’ word shouldn’t be used, Sue Robins says

Askew Tennis Centre draws 14 teams for mixed doubles tourney

Event at new facility hosted competitors from throughout Okanagan

B.C., federal ministers plead for meeting Wet’suwet’en dissidents

Scott Fraser, Carolyn Bennett says they can be in Smithers Thursday

EDITORIAL: Revisiting cannabis regulations

Recent retail license application has brought up concerns about present policy in Summerland

Guidelines regulate Summerland cannabis stores

The municipality’s policy, 300.6 establishes the 50-metre buffer zone around schools and parks

Largest aircraft to operate at YLW begins service to Toronto this summer

The Boeing 767-300ER will increase seat availability for flights to Toronto by 40 per cent

Most Read