New app game allows people to ‘save’ seals on their phone

Josh Pennell
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It won’t give you a realistic experience of what it’s like to be on the Front, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is hoping a new app will encourage people to save seals in the real world.

A screen image of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals’ new game, “Seals Hero.”

The app is called “Seal Hero.” In it, an animated character walks through a frozen environment looking for seals. When he finds one, he paints it green and the seal disappears, presumably saved from hunters.

The act of painting the seals green is reminiscent of a Greenpeace demonstration where the same thing was done by protesters. They sprayed the coats of seal pups green to make them unsellable and save the pups from the harvest.

“Once players feel the accomplishment of saving seals virtually, they can hop on to and learn how to help seals in the real world,” PETA’s Emily Lavender said.

Exactly how much reality is used in the game is questionable. The animated seals look remarkably like whitecoats, which aren’t hunted anymore. Information given in the game about the hunt says that, “Every year, hunters bludgeon to death hundreds of thousands of baby harp seals. Many seals who are killed are three months old or younger.”

Frank Pinhorn, executive director of the Canadian Sealers Association, says that information is false.

“They don’t know any more about the seal harvest than they knows about going to the moon,” he said.

Almost 100 per cent of seals killed in this province are shot, Pinhorn said. A hakapik is used only to finish an animal off if it’s semiconscious. It’s also for safety when walking over the ice.

Lavender feels differently about how humanely the hunt is carried out.

“Often they’re shot and the bullet will rip through their face and it won’t kill them, so they’re left to suffer, choking on their own blood until a sealer is able to come and bludgeon them to death,” she said.

She added this a very, very common and painful way for seals to die.

PETA’s website says the game “allows users to save seals killed in Canada’s annual slaughter, highlighting how young generations look at seals as wonders of nature rather than living piñatas they can beat to death with a stick.”

In 2010, Apple blocked an app that let players kill virtual seals.

Organizations: Greenpeace, Canadian Sealers Association, Apple

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • Annette Glendenning
    March 26, 2014 - 10:27

    With all the support to stop the seal hunt in Canada and it still continues is a snub to all who live here. Stephen Harper should stop lying to his children and tell them the truth about seal hunting/slaughtering. Tell them why they have to do it and what comes from it. I am so disappointed that for years this can not be stopped. Thumbs down and an index finger back at you Harper.

  • Bridget Curran
    March 05, 2014 - 12:55

    Mr. Pinhorn says most seal pups are shot as if that were a more humane method of killing. I've seen it personally with my own eyes and can say with a great degree of certainty that it is NOT. Sealers are not expert marksmen and oftentimes are shooting seal pups in extreme conditions. Standing in a boat heaving in high waves and rough waters, aiming at a target on a moving ice floe. Very rarely are seal pups killed with one shot and sealers are loathe to shoot them multiple times as that will diminish the marketable value of the pelt. Ms. Lavender is correct - all too often seal pups are merely wounded and left to suffer on the ice for long periods of time before finally being finished off with a club or hakapik by sealers. Again, I have witnessed this time and time again over my years of documenting the commercial seal hunt. So YES Mr. Pinhorn, I DO actually know about the "seal harvest". The main reason seal pups are shot instead of clubbed in some areas is because ice conditions don't allow sealers to get out on the ice. And here's something to keep in mind - if seal pups are shot and wounded on the ice and it's unsafe for sealers to get on the ice themselves, how do you think they get the seal pup into the boat? Hook it through the face with a gaff and drag it, fully conscious and suffering, across the ice and up the side of the boat. Call that humane? Definitely NOT. To even suggest shooting seals is more humane than clubbing is disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst. Mr. Pinhorn should take a good long look in the mirror before he starts calling other people liars. As an aside, from what I could see of the game, the pups are GRAY, not white. It's not PETA's fault the pro-sealing lobby is colour-blind. Bridget Curran Atlantic Canadian Anti-Sealing Coalition

  • Flipper
    March 05, 2014 - 06:50

    There are penguins in this game! Do you research PETA, there are no penguins in the Northern Hemisphere!

  • Commenter
    March 04, 2014 - 07:02

    I read this app was developed by an Australian company. A million wild kangaroos are culled annually in Australia. I bet the company never attainmade an app to address that hunt. Does Apple have a similar app to save gators or American Sea Lions or Middle East KIDS ?

    • Anonymous
      March 04, 2014 - 19:50

      So we now paint everyone in a country with the same brush? Polls show that the majority in Canada disagree with the seal hunt, wouldn't it be a shame if someone in Australia thought that all Canadians agreed with it. And you're suggesting that a company in a country with culls shouldn't make a game for that reason? What if everyone who works there disagrees with both? How much are you willing to bet anyway? I'm guessing not the time or energy to actually look into it. How much energy have you put into saving gators, sea lions or children in the middle east - I'm guessing none - the good thing is that won't stop others, including Apple, from trying to help, be it seals, gators or children.