Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash.

Water skiing squirrel to perform in Vancouver illegally

A controversial squirrel will be breaking the law for the second time this month with its water skiing performance.

According to the Vancouver Sun, Twiggy, an Eastern grey squirrel, will be showing off her talents at the Vancouver International Boat Show, even though her act has been prohibited in Vancouver for more than 40 years.

The ban is due to a municipal bylaw which was enacted by city council in 1978 and prohibits businesses from using rodents and several other “exotic” animals from being in a competition, exhibition, performance, event “or other situation.”

Exceptions are made for several rodents such as domestic hamsters, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats, mice, degus, and gerbils. However, not squirrels.

A spokeswoman for the Vancouver event said that the boat show has complied with and obtained all federal licencing requirements and added that Twiggy offers an educational seminar about water safety.

The trained squirrel is scheduled to perform at least twice a day through Friday and then seven more times over the weekend, but each one of her performances could result in a fine anywhere from $500 to $10,000.

Last week CTV News reported that the celebrity squirrel was performing in Toronto, also illegally, because of a bylaw that prohibits a number of rodents from being kept in captivity.

Twiggy was a main attraction at the Toronto International Boat Show in January, which was said to have drawn crowds of thousands.

Nathalie Karvonen, the director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre, a veterinary clinic for wild animals, said she filed the complaint to the city upon hearing about the squirrel’s performance.

“We were really horrified by what they were doing … It’s no different than a dancing bear,” she said. “A squirrel is not an aquatic or a semiaquatic animal. It’s just not what squirrels do, it very stressful and unnatural.”

Karvonen added that the squirrel is being used to make money, despite Twiggy Inc., the company representing the squirrel, and the boat festival saying that her talents are used to teach children about water safety.