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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

More rain in the forecast for Cariboo region

A risk of a thunderstorm for Tuesday afternoon

Cariboo vegetable farmer swamped by Fraser River flooding

Brianna van de Wijngaard was picking vegetables three feet below the water

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Cariboo, North Thompson region

Prince George, Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House all under watch

International Safe Travels designation program approved for Gold Rush Trail, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast

World Travel and Tourism Council approves, businesses and communities can apply

Do you think recreation facilities in 100 Mile should reopen?

The weekly web poll for the 100 Mile Free Press

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

Budget officer pegs cost of basic income as calls for it grow due to COVID-19

Planned federal spending to date on pandemic-related aid now tops about $174 billion

Most Read