A walrus named Thor has spared many animals — both domestic and wild — in the northeastern English coastal city of Scarborough, of a night of terror and even death by making the City Council cancel the New Year’s Eve fireworks after spending a day sleeping in the city’s harbour. The Council cancelled it out of concern for the walrus welfare after being advised by the wildlife charity British Divers Marine Life Association.

Interestingly, though, Thor, who is an adolescent male, left the harbour and returned to the sea before midnight on 31st December, perhaps assuming that his work has been done, or hoping that he could save other animals in other cities on time. Walruses sometimes spend several days in one location before resuming travelling back to the Arctic, so he could reappear in Scarborough. He has already been seen this winter in Hampshire, France and the Netherlands. Luckily he did not visit Norway, as this summer Freya, a young wild female walrus, was killed by the Norwegian authorities for daring to peacefully bask around the waters of Oslo,

Richard Coulson, a Scarborough resident, said to the PA news agency the day before Thor left, “I live just round the corner from where it actually is and the traffic up and down our road — it’s just like a summer’s day, it really is absolutely teeming with cars and people. It’s amazing how much attention it’s brought. It’s been well protected — it’s been cordoned off so you can’t get within 20 feet of it. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one. It’s huge. We see seals quite regularly around Scarborough coastline but something of that size, it’s enormous. You respect nature when you see something of that size. Its tusks are bigger than my arms.”

Perhaps this represents one of the clearest examples of speciesism, where one particular species,  Odobenus rosmarus, is protected from the devastating effects of fireworks displays, but all the other local species of birds and mammals are left to endure them.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.