NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Philip Demers was so upset Marineland rejected his bid to become the "Kanye West" of animal trainers, he hatched a plot to steal a walrus, a lawsuit alleges.
Marineland is seeking $1.5 million in damages from Demers, a former employee turned outspoken critic of the tourist attraction, according to a statement of claim filed filed Tuesday at the St. Catharines, Ont., courthouse.
The lawsuit alleges Demers plotted to steal Smooshi the walrus, trespassed on Marineland property and intimidated employees.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
Demers pitched a reality television show to Marineland called the Walrus Whisperer in August 2011, said the document.
When his idea was rejected, Marineland claims Demers became "upset and displeased.”
Shortly before the park opened last year, Demers quit his job as an animal trainer and caregiver to Smooshi.
Following failed attempts to be rehired, the statement said Demers and his girlfriend, Christine Santos, another former animal caregiver at Marineland, went to a Toronto newspaper and made allegations of animal mistreatment and neglect.
Several animal welfare organizations — including the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Niagara Falls Humane Society — investigated the park, but no charges were laid.
The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a non-profit organization established to promote the welfare of animals, also found no evidence of animal abuse at Marineland.
Still, the park claims Demers continued trespassing and harassing Marineland employees, veterinarians and former employees.
On Oct. 7, Demers was part of a large group of activists that trespassed at Marineland's stadium during a live show.
The court document says Demers helped organize the demonstration that "engaged in deliberate, aggressive, intimidating, threatening, hostile and very loud shouting in order to halt (the show)."
Marineland also said Demers and others agreed to "unlawfully gain entry into Marineland at a time only known to them¦in order to steal Smooshi for the purpose of obtaining public attention of their stated goals."
Since then, Demers has sent "threatening, harassing, intimidating and unsolicited" e-mails to past and present employees trying to get them to support his allegations of animal abuse, the statement alleges.
Demers could not be reached for comment despite several attempts.
He has yet to file a statement of defence.
A source familiar with the case said Demers could expect several more lawsuits, but Marineland wouldn't officially comment.