A pair of animal rights groups are planning on protesting the seal hunt during the Olympic torch run over the next few months.

 

However, organizers say they won't disrupt the run and will instead be inflating a giant seal named Sparky at locations away from the spectators.

 

Dan Mathews, the senior vice-president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA, said yesterday his group will use “the opportunity” of the torch tour to deliver its message that the seal hunt should be banned.

 

He says with “the eyes of the world” on Canada and the Vancouver Olympics his group “can't resist the opportunity to engage people” about the commercial seal hunt issue.

Some of the protesters are carrying signs showing the Olympic logo - an Inuit Inukshuk - swinging a hakapik at a white seal sitting on a Canadian flag.

“It’s a parody, anything that's a public thing is open to parody,” Mathews said of the use of the logo.

Mathews said he doesn’t have any difficulty with the Olympics, but rather is taking advantage of the event to criticize Canada for its sanctioning of the hunt, much as some Tibetans used the Beijing Summer Games as an opportunity to protest against the Chinese government.

One onlooker in Halifax, 20-year-old Craig Dewar, said yesterday he thinks the protests are conveying a “one-sided” message and he said he believes a ban on the hunt will lead to too large of a seal population.

The Nova Scotian said he comes to the PETA protests to peacefully debate the point of view of the anti-sealing groups.

He said the animal rights groups are “definitely media whoring, but that’s what everyone has to do to get attention these days ... as long as they don’t interrupt it too much I’m fine with it.”