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

North Saanich man fears tougher moorage policies could cost him his home

Stewart Jackson has been living on a boat off Lillian Hoffar Park for about four years

Grave site at Ross Bay Cemetery vandalized overnight

Graffiti found on grave of Sir James Douglas

Sidney dogs lose a beloved companion

Dozens gathered in Beacon Park to remember Sidney’s ‘dog whisperer’

Petition calls for suspension of Victoria councillor Ben Isitt

Isitt says petition ‘does not provide a reliable barometer of public opinion’

Victoria International Airport named one of the best employers in B.C.

Cited reasons include its training programs and tuition subsidies

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

Resident discovers five discarded hog heads in Vancouver Island ditch

WARNING: Graphic image may be upsetting to some readers

Canadian Premier League announces 2020 home dates for eight-team circuit

Pacific FC hosts FC Edmonton on April 11 in Langford

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

Most Read