Following the opening of Manila Ocean Park in 2008, where hundreds of fish and marine mammals are denied their natural habitats and freedom, another aquarium is expected to open in Cebu.
The construction of the 1-hectare Cebu Ocean Park is a result of a partnership between China Oceanis Philippines, Inc., which bought Manila Ocean Park, and SM Supermalls. The abusement park is expected to be completed by October 2017.
Why are aquariums cruel?
Aquariums teach all the wrong lessons: that it is acceptable to imprison animals, to deprive them of freedom of movement, to forbid them the chance to establish their natural territory and explore, to watch them go insane from frustration and loneliness, and to breed and separate them as we please.
Biologist Dr. Culum Brown, an associate professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, found that the cognitive abilities of fish “often match or exceed [those of] other vertebrates.” In his study published in the journal Animal Cognition, he concluded that fish can cooperate and learn from one another, have excellent long-term memories, and can use tools.
Male pufferfish, for example, are artists, drawing designs on the seafloor to attract mates. Stonefish have superb camouflage abilities, and some observers have spotted stonefish covered with algae. This provides them with further protection from predators.
All animals deserve to live freely in their natural habitat.
There is no need for an abusement park in Cebu or anywhere else. A concerned citizen in the Philippines started an online petition to stop the construction of Cebu Ocean Park which thousands of people have signed.
As more and more people around the world recognize that animals don’t belong in captivity—thanks to documentaries like Blackfish—tourists will not want to watch depressed animals imprisoned in small tanks.
Aquariums teach us more about human greed and thoughtlessness than they do about fish, marine mammals, and their habitats. There are many ways to educate the public and cultivate respect for animals without imprisoning fish and marine mammals—it’s time to put the focus on teaching visitors how to protect marine life, rather than harming it.
What You Can Do
Sign the petition, and don’t patronize Cebu Ocean Park, Manila Ocean Park, or any other facility in which animals are used for entertainment. Encourage your friends and family to choose humane activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling to observe animals without disturbing them.