LightAnimal is revolutionizing the future of aquariums. This digital software system, designed and run by Japanese duo Haruyoshi Kawai and Keisuke Saikai, allows audiences to experience realistic, life-size whales, dolphins, and other wild animals in their natural habitats without harming or causing distress to wildlife. Watch the video below to see how it works.
As LightAnimal proves, virtual reality technology has become so advanced that there’s no excuse for making animals suffer or putting them at risk for human entertainment or education. The 3-D effects put participants right in the action and make them feel as if they’re swimming with these fascinating animals.
Many educators and members of the public have come to realize that facilities that hold animals captive—such as aquariums, marine parks, and zoos—are not educational, because visitors see mere shadows of the animals: defeated beings who can’t engage in their natural behavior.
Even the largest tank or the “best” artificial environment can’t come close to providing the space and freedom that animals want and need. This deprivation—combined with relentless frustration, loneliness, and even abuse from the people who are supposed to be caring for them—causes many captive animals to lose their minds.
Touch tanks and “swim with” programs allow the public to pet, kiss, or even ride dolphins. Such programs invade the animals’ already diminished worlds and are intrusive, stressful, and even dangerous for them—and risky for human participants, too.
LightAnimal creations are interactive and can react to members of the audience who stand in front of the screen. Not only does this technology educate visitors about animals by offering a close-up view of them in their natural environment, it also sends the message that it’s unacceptable to keep sentient beings in captivity, where they’re frustrated, lonely, far from their natural homes, confined to small spaces, and at the mercy of humans.
What You Can Do
Increasingly, people realize that educational and conservation efforts must start with respecting animals, not imprisoning and enslaving them. LightAnimal is already being used in China, Japan, and Korea. Please contact your local aquarium, marine park, or zoo and ask it to install virtual reality displays. It’s time for these facilities to stop harming marine animals and teach visitors how to protect them.