17 March 2009

Georgia Aquarium response on Singapore petition against captive whale sharks

The Georgia Aquarium has not taken a position on the Singapore resort’s plan to display whale sharks, but defends its ability to do so, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Nine million people have seen whale sharks who would not have seen them otherwise,” said aquarium spokeswoman Meghann Gibbons. “We believe we’re making a difference through education and research inside the building and the research we fund in the field.”

The Georgia Aquarium was designed specifically to house the giant fish. The aquarium funds whale shark research off the Yucatan Peninsula and in Taiwan.

Atlanta whale shark deaths cited in protest
Activists say giant fish shouldn’t be displayed at new Singapore oceanarium
Jim Tharpe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 16 Mar 09;
Animal welfare groups half a world away are using the 2007 deaths of two whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium in an effort to stop a Singapore resort from displaying the huge fish.

The groups, which include the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have launched a Web site (www.whalesharkpetition.com) and petition drive that highlights the Georgia Aquarium whale sharks deaths to argue that the big fish should not be kept in captivity at a new marine park in Singapore.

Ralph and Norton — two adolescent whale sharks brought to Atlanta from Taiwan — died two years ago after their tank was treated with a chemical used to rid fish of parasites. The Georgia Aquarium still has four whale sharks, and is the only fish tank outside of Asia to display the polka-dotted giants, the largest fish species and the largest sharks in the world.

Resorts World at Sentosa is building two casinos in Singapore, which will feature what the resort calls the “world’s biggest oceanarium” when it opens next year. The resort says the oceanarium will house 700,000 fish in 20 million gallons of water.

“No man-made environment, no matter now large, could accommodate the needs of a whale shark,” the environmental groups said in a statement.

Whale sharks are ocean-going fish that can dive to depths of several thousand feet in the wild. They have been kept successfully for more than a decade at some Asian aquariums. However, critics argue the majority of whale sharks held in captivity die within a few years of their capture.

The Georgia Aquarium was designed specifically to house the giant fish, which can grow to 40-plus feet and weigh tons.

The aquarium has not taken a position on the Singapore resort’s plan to display whale sharks, but defends its ability to do so.

“Nine million people have seen whale sharks who would not have seen them otherwise,” said aquarium spokeswoman Meghann Gibbons. “We believe we’re making a difference through education and research inside the building and the research we fund in the field.”

The aquarium funds whale shark research off the Yucatan Peninsula and in Taiwan.

See also Resorts World Sentosa's response to petition against captive whale sharks

1 comment:

  1. reading that statement from georgia suddenly struck me that no animal should suffer the indignity of having 9,000,000 people come and go, staring, gawking, pointing at it eat, drink, sleep, poo and pee. It just occur to me that even if I were the last Homo sapien on earth I wouldn't want to be put on display and have 9,000,000 whale sharks stare at me.

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