World Premiere – Hot Docs @ Home on CBC
May 28, 2020, 8pm

In the belly of a global movement to end marine mammal captivity,


follows a stranger-than-fiction custody battle to #savesmooshi and 

reveals the cost of speaking out against an industry under siege.

Director Nathalie Bibeau grew up in the rust belt of Canada, watching her brother and his best friend smoke pot in their parents’ backyard. That friend turned out to be Phil Demers, now known as @walruswhisperer to his thousands of followers as the guy taking on the iconic amusement park, MarineLand.

“Phil was always a smart ass with a quick tongue, but there was no indication he would later hone a voice on Twitter so visceral it would attract celebrities and affect the course of legislation,”  says Bibeau.

In association with documentary Channel and CBC Docs, Bunbury Films presents THE WALRUS AND THE WHISTLEBLOWER: a film that gives viewers a rare insiders’ glimpse into the blistering debate on marine mammal captivity and into the life of a whistleblower who is putting his neck out to ‘save’ a walrus who may think he’s her mom.  Beautifully shot, and directed with grit and grace, the documentary paints a portrait of a flawed, unlikely and inspiring hero with nothing left to lose.

At a time when the paradigm is shifting in our relationship with animals, THE WALRUS AND THE WHISTLEBLOWER shines a light on this subject through a unique lens and jump-starts a discussion about the courage of speaking out and the psychological toll it takes.

With scenes illustrating democracy in action, the documentary includes appearances by such noteworthy figures as Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Senator Murray Sinclair, Senator Wilfred Moore and Senator Don Plett.

Directed by Nathalie Bibeau, the film World Premieres at the Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival via Hot Docs at Home on CBC – May 28, 2020 at 8pm.

“I would like to think it’s good vs. evil, but I know it’s asshole vs. asshole.”

-Phil Demers


The Walrus and the Whistleblower premieres Thursday, May 28, 2020 on CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. ET and on documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET *

An episode of CBC’s The Nature of Things is to follow. Broadcast date TBD.

*Following the postponement of the 2020 Hot Docs Festival due to COVID-19, a selection of exclusive first-run feature documentaries that would have debuted at the Festival will now premiere on CBC.


Phil Demers is a part-time mailman who lives in a bungalow across the creek from MarineLand, the iconic amusement park in Niagara Falls, where he had his dream job as an animal trainer for over a decade. He swam with killer whales and ran the show, until he quit and blew the whistle, making claims of animal abuse and calling for an end to the near 60-year-old practice of keeping marine mammals in pools.

Known in the media as the @walruswhisperer, Phil has appeared four times on the Joe Rogan show, has testified before the Canadian Senate, and is being sued for $1.5M for plotting to steal Smooshi, the walrus.  Phil and Smooshi had become an inseparable pair when she first arrived at MarineLand as a baby, and together they became a viral sensation in the early days of social media. Now, he’s embroiled in a custody battle to #savesmooshi. 

In the belly of a global movement to end marine mammal captivity, The Walrus and the Whistleblower follows Phil as he helps champion a law to ban the captivity of whales and dolphins, faces a lawsuit entering its 8th year, and spirals around an aching loss of identity. At its heart are questions of compassion for others, humans and animals alike, the nuances of all our stories and the hills we are willing to die on.


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