- Posted October 11, 2012 by
Los Angeles, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Nasty fat campaign upsets conservationist Elissa Sursara
Just weeks after recovering from a deadly disease, Australian conservationist Elissa Sursara went on the defense against Twitter trolls and internet bullies who called the former actress “fat” and suggested she check into “a concentration camp.”
Famed former actress Elissa Sursara is no stranger to backlash, having flamed the fury of marine parks like SeaWorld and the Sydney Aquarium, and winning enemies like Daily Telegraph reporter Miranda Devine after a public feud about shark culling.
But the likeable ecologist and conservationist, who boasts more than 100,000 fans on Twitter had her first taste of bullying when she was targeted by more than 400 trolls on Twitter who criticized her weight gain.
It’s a new experience for Sursara, who is Australia’s 9th most popular personality according to Mind Body Soul magazine.
One troll, who named its Twitter profile @FatElissa wrote, “Elissa Sursara was skinny… until she ate one of the whales she saved.”
Another, @NomNomElissa, now deleted, mused, “I should probably feel maybe bad about all this. But do I feel that? mmm......not really.”
One account attracted more than 400 followers in a day and tweeted links to pro-anorexia websites amongst dozens of pictures of celebrities struggling with their weight, including supermodel model Karolina Kurkova.
Sursara, who suffered a broken jaw and wrist in a September collision on the Gold Coast, spoke with IndyBay about her experience, saying, “I’m tough, but I’m not made of stone. Words have an impact.”
She admitted the attacks were hurtful, but shrugged off Twitter trolls’ suggestions for a starvation diet.
“I’m not plump by lifestyle," she said.
IndyBay could exclusively reveal that Sursara suffered from a blood cell infection and severe tetanus contracted during her work in India. The infection saw her weight both plummet and inflate rapidly. Sursara admits the staphylococcus aureus disease contributed greatly to immobilizing her for several months and that weight gain became unavoidable.
“I had open wounds on my legs and one on my abdomen that threatened my stomach and liver. I had surgeries to drain the masses and stayed on an IV for weeks. I spent a long time in hospital and an even longer time recovering at home,” Sursara said. “I could barely move. Of course I gained weight.”
The ecologist fell ill after ten weeks with an nongovernmental agency investigating a strong trade in illegal tiger parts in Assam, India, when she cut her leg on burnt car debris.
Left untreated during her expedition, doctors later confirmed she had been infected with immediately.
Sursara was working on the Great Barrier Reef in December before she finally admitted herself to hospital.
That month, the Animal Liberation Front issued a statement about Sursara’s undisclosed illness, offering her their rare well wishes.
Sursara is preparing to leave for the Southern Ocean with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on voyage to the Antarctic whale sanctuary.