Zoologist Sets the Record Straight After Netflix Tells Kids Climate Change Is Killing Walruses


A screen can be a powerful thing. Whether we’re staring at a television or scrolling through a tablet, the screens all around us can change the way we see the world.

Conservatives have warned about the downsides of a culture addicted to media for decades, and liberal Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have been reported to limit the screen time their kids can view at home. The reason is that the content we absorb can influence us — and it can be used to make us believe half-truths and lies.

That’s exactly what one expert now says is happening with a video released by Netflix. A zoologist and professor is sounding the alarm after a much-viewed nature documentary implied that global warming caused the deaths of walruses in the film.

Susan Crockford, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Victoria, has accused renowned British presenter David Attenborough and producers of the “Our Planet” documentary of lying about a sober scene that showed walruses falling to their death. She believes viewers are being purposely deceived in order to push climate change propaganda.

“The lie being told by Attenborough and the film crew is that 200-300 walruses fell during the time they were filming, while in fact they filmed only a few: polar bears were responsible for the majority of the carcasses shown on the beach below the cliff,” zoologist Crockford wrote on her official website on Sunday.

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She believes that deceptive editing was used to push a completely untrue narrative about the footage. The walruses that were recorded dying, Crockford alleges, were being chased over a cliff by polar bears — and the clip had no direct link to climate change.

The professor pointed to a 2017 incident in which polar bears were reported to have driven walruses to their deaths near a village in Russia, which she believes was shown in the nature documentary. Conspicuously, there was no mention of the polar bears in the released footage.

“The film crew have steadfastly refused to reveal precisely where and when they filmed the walrus deaths shown in this film in relation to the walrus deaths initiated by polar bears reported by The Siberian Times in the fall of 2017,” Crockford wrote.

But she thinks the deceptive footage goes beyond editing, and that crew members have openly lied about what happened.

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“The lie being told by Attenborough and the film crew is that 200-300 walruses fell during the time they were filming, while in fact they filmed only a few: polar bears were responsible for the majority of the carcasses shown on the beach below the cliff,” the zoologist said.

“This is, of course, in addition to the bigger lie that lack of sea ice is to blame for walrus herds being onshore in the first place,” Crockford continued. “Walruses dying in large numbers due to falls from cliff tops is not a new phenomenon.”

In other words, the polar bear expert with more than 35 years in her field thinks that the documentary set out to be deceptive from the get-go. If that’s true, then left-leaning documentary producers didn’t just make a mistake, they’re purposely pushing a falsehood because it matches a political narrative.

The footage was directly linked to the effects of global warming by the film’s director, Sophie Lanfear. She blamed the death of the walruses on “lack of sea ice” when asked by The Telegraph newspaper. This “global warming killed the walruses” claim was also pushed by media outlets such as The Sun and environmental groups including the WWF.

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But Crockford isn’t alone. Other wildlife experts are now questioning the story.

Lori Quakenbush from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game told The Atlantic that similar incidents between polar bears and walruses have happened many times before, even when sea ice is plentiful.

“Quakenbush and others also doubt that the climbs and falls are related to climate change, because such tragedies have been reported since before sea ice showed substantial declines,” the magazine stated.

Lori Polasek from the University of Alaska Fairbanks is also skeptical. “Walruses have shown similar behavior on the U.S. coastline when space and ice were not an issue, and the reason is unknown,” Polasek said.

If the documentary is truly deceptive, then its producers have some explaining to do. To push a political agenda in a documentary trusted by parents, students, teachers and kids to be accurate would be alarming — but in the age of editing, perhaps nothing is as it seems.

CORRECTION, April 20, 2019: As originally published, this article described Susan Crockford as a “teacher” at the University of Victoria. After Ms. Crockford reached out to The Western Journal, we corrected that description. She is, in fact, an adjunct assistant professor, which she informed us is not a teaching position.

We apologize for the error, which was wholly our own, and for any confusion it may have caused.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.