In early January of this year, a new aquarium opened at the Grandview Mall in Guangzhou, China called Ocean World whose deplorable conditions for its animals has many outraged and seeking a way to take action against the shopping mall. Life of Guangzhou reports that the aquarium is “blazed with bright light and color” and goes on to list the impressive amount of fish housed in the tanks, but photos from concerned visitors show that the scene is anything but bright and that it’s not just fish who are suffering in this mall.
Life of Guangzhou makes no mention of the mammals or large marine life that are also on display at the mall, and perhaps this is because their sparse spaces are among the most to attract criticism. Two polar-brown bear hybrids can be seen in a small space in the photos with only a small pool to swim in and minimal toys. Their walls are painted blue to match the theme of the aquarium and, like all the rest of the animals housed here, they will never see the sun again if this aquarium continues as it is.
In another photo, a white wolf is seen laying in the corner of her filthy concrete area, which has nothing but random logs and some dog bowls to occupy her and the Arctic foxes in another exhibit. Many of these animals have already begun to exhibit stereotypical behavior while in captivity, and this may have occurred so soon into their time at the aquarium because, according to Animals Asia, the animals were taken from their natural environment. This means that the animals were captured in the wild despite this practice being frowned upon because wild animals do not adapt as well to the confined spaces as captive-born animals do and are more likely to become aggressive and/or bored. Animal Welfare Director at Animals Asia, David Neale, was quoted as saying, “Taking animals from their natural environments can never be defended, but when they’re rehomed in conditions like we’re seeing at the Grandview Aquarium it’s the worst possible situation.”
China’s Global Times states that a post went viral on a site called WeChat, where the original photos of the poor housing are from, that accused the aquarium of keeping their beluga whales in filthy water, neglecting and causing the death of a Grouper fish, which can be seen in photos, and not allowing enough space for larger marine mammals, such as the whale shark, to express themselves properly. The popularity of this article sparked an investigation by the Guangzhou Ocean and Fishery Bureau, who has already found that some animals, when being moved to the aquarium, died or were injured in the process.
Though the Bureau “has demanded the aquarium improve their rescue system,” the manager of the Grandview Aquarium in South China’s Guangdong Province was quoted as saying that the aquarium has enough space for all of the animals to live and play and that they have commissioned staff to monitor the mental and physical health of all the animals. What’s worse is that they claim to “popularize science and nurture marine life.” After viewing the photos of the conditions of these animals, it appears that the aquarium is not nurturing marine life, but, rather, providing minimal care for them. David Neale from Animals Asia addresses this by saying, “While those behind this may claim this as education, it’s clear the motivation here is bottom line profit. As long as businesses are allowed to use animals in this manner, wealth will always be put ahead of welfare.”
Though the future of these animals is unknown, rest assured that Animals Asia is doing what it can to improve the conditions that these animals are living in and investigating further into the owner’s intentions with the animals. There is also a petition circulating on Care2 to shut down the zoo, however the petition has only reached less than 1/5 of its goal as of this date of publication.
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