Netflix is facing some backlash after they decided to include a graphic scene of walruses falling to their death in their new nature documentary Our Planet. However, they are choosing to defend their decision rather than modify the project.
On Friday, the popular streaming company released an eight-part docu-series Our Plant with the purpose of documenting climate change around the world. In one episode, Our Planet focuses on how dissipating ice levels in Russia have impacted the country's walrus population. During this segment, the production crew recorded a herd of walruses attempting to climb a cliff near the ocean that used to be covered in ice. While doing so, several walruses fell from the ledge to the ground below leaving them either severely injured or dying on impact.
After watching the scene, several viewers were left traumatized. As a result, they took to social media to condemn Netflix and Our Planet's filmmaker David Attenborough for electing to include the footage.
The scene's strongest opponent is Canadian zoologist Dr. Susan Crockford who emphasizes in the study of polar bears. Crockford states that the walruses were not trying to scale the cliff due to climate change. Rather, they were trying to escape a polar bear attack. To support this, Crockford explained that this is a seasonal event for walruses. Every year close to 5,000 walruses convene at the rockery. The scene was filmed during this time. The high concentration on walruses attracts natural predators like polar bears. Crockford then said that in 2017—when Our Planet was shot—it was documented that several hundred walruses fell to their death trying to escape a polar bear attack. Because of this, she and others have condemned Our Planet's Walrus scene calling it "trauma porn."
However, Netflix says that Crockford's fact only further solidifies the validity of the scene. They explain that due to climate change walruses are forced to gather on unsafe land masses that are not suitable for their survival. They say that this is supported by an accomplished Russian biologist who has seen the change in that coastline during his 35-year tenure.