Phil Demers Animal Intelligence Smoochi Walrus Interview on The Higherside Chats Podcast

Phil Demers | Smooshi The Walrus, Marine Parks, & Animal Intelligence

Show Notes


Phil Demers is a former professional marine mammal trainer. He is best known for his relationship with a captive walrus named Smooshi that he imprinted on when she was young. Their relationship garnered the attention of  the mass media for its uniqueness.  Demers left his position citing allegations of negligent treatment of the animals and unhealthy conditions. Since that time, he has dedicated himself to the release of Smooshi the walrus, and defending himself against the relentless legal battle from his previous employer.

Find Phil on Twitter @WalrusWhisperer.

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PLUS Content

-Interesting insights into orca language. -New laws on the books to help these animals. -Where these animals are being captured. -What orcas do when members of their pods are captured. -The mass animal graveyard. -What’s it like to get the Rogan Bump?

24 Responses

  1. Really don’t like that your new format does not permit skipping forward or backwards to hear something repeated or skip something that you already heard. The option is covered up by the download/ subscribe options. I just heard part one on Stitcher and went to my plus account but i cant get into the middle of the dialog without listening to the whole thing again, which I might not do. Guess I shouldn’t dip into it on Stitcher but I used to be able to do that

    1. Sorry for the frustration, but let it be known, you have several options available to you for skipping ahead/back 15 secs:

      -The onsite player has this ability, but assuming you are listening on your phone, you will need to turn your phone to landscape so that all the options can display.
      -You can also download the full MP3 to your device and play it on any media player you choose without having to stream it.
      -You can also use most major podcast players with THC+. Not Stitcher, because their system is not industry standard and they don’t have a process for password protected content. I have this page here, with several apps that do work, and step by step instructions for the process. Even videos in some case:

      You might have known some of that, but I wasn’t 100% clear.

      Also, the way I spilt up THC episodes is always a cut around the 50 min mark, so I can include the natural wrap up portion in both versions. If you prefer to listen to the free show first in Stitcher, you can be sure if you just skip ahead to 50 mins in, you haven’t missed anything, but that seems like a difficult way to listen on the regular.

      I would really recommend getting an App from that FAQ/Help page. It’s a few steps to set up, but then you never have to worry about it again. Hope that helps. It’s very frustrating to me when people are having a hard time with Plus. I want everyone to get what they pay for and be happy with the delivery, but I’m not sure what else I can do except have a detailed FAQ/Help page. It’s hard to communicate in a way that every person will hear. Sorry!

      1. If it’s helpful for your developers, here’s what I found. The free site loads well and I can play no problems. If I log into the plus I have difficulty getting it to play. Because of that I’m assuming the non plus and plus are totally different backend systems however the core functionality should be the same. Ask your developers to do an a/b test to find the differences between the free and plus site as there are formatting differences that shouldn’t be hard to find. Good luck!

    2. I download all episodes and then upload to my Ipod, this is so I can re – listen to them which I often do. But to answer your question, in Itunes you can select in options, “remember playback position”. so if the interview is two hours long, you don’t have to listen to it in one go, if you stop it, it automatically goes back to where you last finished, problem solved.

    1. I agree about both payments as a listener and that Greg should fling those invitations… with the addendum that this listener prefers Mr. Rogan on MUTE. Yeah, I said it!! Thank you, Greg, for your work.

  2. Thanks Greg for this show, It probably wasn’t easy to prepare for. I’m left feeling that Phil has seen a lot of horrible things pertaining to these animals. That he should be reimbursed for it ALL ! Sometimes you don’t see the forest for the trees kind of deal. Thanks

  3. I think this was a good episode but as soon as he dissed veganism I was turned off completely. Why should any animal life be placed in lesser value. All life is sacred. I think if you’re going to fight for the animals you should do it for ALL of them. I dont think there is any moral justification to mistreat or kill animals when they dont need to be. Vegans aren’t “extreme” as he said. What is extreme is taking a life for your own pleasure and taste. Why should an animal DIE for you when you can live a healthy life without murder. I hope to see an episode with Earthling Ed because this was a sad example of speciesism.

    1. I don’t think he dissed eating Vegan or Veganism as a dietary choice. He dissed the culture of Veganism.

      The point was that some people are so uncompromising and extreme in their position, that they can’t even find common ground with a guy like Phil, who’s whole life is animal activism despite eating meat. If we can’t negotiate, or find middle ground with people over common causes when our interests align, we miss the forest for the trees.

      It’s a commentary on human behavior that is completely unrelated to a person’s diet. Just wanted to clarify that.

    2. I think some forms of veganism can be fairly extremist positions. There have been no human cultures pre-civilization (that is like 99% of the human timeline) that were vegan or even vegetarian. It is in our DNA, despite how hard we try to divorce ourselves from nature. That said, modern forms of slaughter for consumption is also incredibly divorced from nature and do much damage all around the globe (definitely more than our factory-farm vegan diets). Plus culture, ancestry, geography can also play huge roles. This is not a simple black and white issue, in my opinion.

  4. Great show, an example of an individual taking on the corporate world so I will forgive any shortcomings as a presenter. As I appreciate his passion and dedication as well your own Greg.
    Another episode, I listen first screen and take a few short notes. Then I’ll listen with a few people now including my own daughter’s.
    Of course not every episode, but any is more than none and the information to me priceless. The word is spreading!

  5. Agree he has a lot of guts fighting the good fight. But their lawyers will be sure to show a judge his bing hit comments. Relevant or not. It’s not a good look if he wants to win. But I am rooting for him, bong hits, and funny tee shirts.

    1. @bigmatth
      I was thinking the exact same thing when I was listening, but as long as he is in a rec legal state they shouldn’t be able to use that against him, hopefully.

      1. I am pretty certain he said he was In Ontario which is where Marine land is. Up here in Canada weed is legal across the board so I’m hoping he gets a fair shake.

  6. My hope is that something like this happens in the Free Energy realm and this blow the lid of the conspiracy against energetic sovereignty for all…

    About animals, we are doing our best, here in Brazil, about our native sting-less bees. Despite being meet eaters 😉

  7. Thank you for this show. It was a nicely conceived change of pace and a well-constructed interview with excellent al lib questions. The bong hits were a nice added touch. This was a show about passion, obsession, and justice on a personal level, and the metaphorical (and sometimes physical) imprisonment we put up with to mete out that justice — how far are some of willing to go? I know Phil’s story, but still, I was reminded of the obsession of Timothy Treadwell (as captured in the excellent mid-2000s Werner Herzog documentary Grizzly Man) who did all he could to protect a large sanctuary of grizzly bears in Alaska that he felt was in danger of human encroachment (rightly or wrongly is up to the viewer to decide), as well as animal and environmental rights activists such as Dian Fossey, Jane Tipson, Jane Goodall, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Peter Willcox (as told in the late 80s hit Little Fighter by hair metal band White Lion). Some of us are willing to die (or come close) for a cause, not to be martyrs, but because they believe to do otherwise is to permanently damage your soul.

  8. Great show and great purpose. A wee observation though that out of all the issues the one where people are doing evil things to animals is the one getting most traction. I am glad for the walrus though and there was great rapport there.

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