Stop constructing the nation's first hi-tech virtual aquarium at Udaipur
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Udaipur, a small tourist town in the state of Rajasthan in India is all set to construct the nation’s largest hi-tech virtual aquarium at a cost of hundred million rupees. Udaipur is a small town with about half a million population. An equal number of tourists visit this city every year due to its natural beauty, glorious history and unmatchable hospitality. Tourism and mining are the major industry here to bring in revenue to the government. So state government is always keen to spend a lot of money on tourism related project. A few years back they came up with this idea to establish a huge aquarium on the banks of one of its popular lakes viz. Fatehsagar.
Why We Are Against An Aquarium?
Most people love to keep an aquarium at their home or office and appreciate colourful fishes swimming in the glass boxes called aquarium, unaware of the fact that these hobby and interior décor is intensely cruel towards fishes, other marine animals and the whole of environment. A huge public aquarium contribute to this cruelty exponentially.
Let us list out a few points here:
First, let us be very clear that fishes are very sentient and intelligent animals and can feel pain and may suffer as much as humans if not more. Please read here to know more about it. All sentient beings should possess a fundamental right to a free life on this planet we share with them.
No aquarium in the world has succeeded so far in replicating the natural environment and eco-system for the aquatic life. Even the biggest and most well-maintained aquariums can’t compare to large natural water bodies like oceans and rivers.
Marine fishes are cruelly hunted from the wild and carelessly transported. About 70% to 90% of these die before they reach any aquarium.
Fishes are cruelly hunted by stunning them in the reefs by squirting poisonous chemicals like Sodium Cyanide. Due to this about 90% of the fishes along with several other creatures die at the hunting site itself. This also pollutes the oceans with this deadly chemical. As profit margins in selling a live fish for aquariums are very high as compared to dead fish, this trade is growing at a high rate.
Most fishes which are caught in this fashion, though alive, suffer due to the influence of cyanide and will die soon. Therefore they are sold as soon as possible to make money on them. Transporting them to countries far away from their natural habitat and into an isolated environment of an aquarium results in an unbearable shock. Up to 98% of these fishes die within one year of reaching an aquarium.
Fresh water fishes too are artificially bred in farms, sometimes dyed and tattoed to increase their ‘asthetics’.
Fishes get stunned and shocked from artificial lights, sounds, visitors, unnatural temperatures, pressure, feed and water.
One of the world’s largest aquarium at Dubai Mall witnessed 10% of its fishes die even before it was opened to public.
Dubai Mall aquarium also had a dangerous leak in its shark tank in Feb., 2010 when it had to be evacuated.
Incidents such as Jawahar Aquarium of Mussoorie (in Uttarakhand) receiving damaged packets of fishes with almost no water are quite common.
The infamous deaths of whale sharks at the world’s largest Georgia aquarium despite the best vet. care, speaks volumes about their upkeep in an artificial environment. Several notable marine biologists and scholars have criticized the upkeep of these animals in captivity.
A study of 16 whale sharks kept at Okinawa Expo Aquarium from 1980 to 1998 found they survived, on average, just 502 days in captivity when they can survive for decades in the wild. Such facts are applicable to almost all aquatic animals hold captive in aquariums.
International animal rights organizations like PETA has criticized and sued several aquariums including Miami Aquarium, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Texas State Aquarium etc. Such litigations may actually increase the cost of operating the aquarium and may bring bad publicity to our city which may negatively impact the influx of tourists in the long run.
CIFA Bhubaneswar’s aquarium has only promoted the aquarium culture and popularized hunting & farming of ornamental fishes.
Aquariums are not a symbol of compassion and non-violence. It is a cruel practice and a foreign culture, which is not compatible with Indian value system.
Father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi had clearly mentioned, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. Obviously, aquariums are not a sign of moral progress and will earn a bad name to our city for disrespecting the words of the Father of the Nation.
Some media reports had stated that there are plans to exhibit fish-fighting among big and small fishes at Udaipur aquarium. It is vulgar, uncivilized, insensitive, cruel and barabric and needs to be condemned by one and all.
A few years back the Government of India has put a ban on the exhibition of all dolphins and cetaceans, considering them very sensitive and intelligent “non-human” individuals.
A report by the Captive Animals Protection Society on the UK aquarium industry, ‘Suffering Deep Down’ was written in 2004 after a sustained undercover investigation. It gives a good insight into the murky goings on and culture of cruelty in the industry of aquaria
This project is coming at a time when the awareness about the cruelty in aquarium industry is spreading among international tourists and world’s leading aquariums like Sea World are facing a decrease in their revenue due to sustained campaigns and boycott with the blossoming ethical considerations.
Udaipur is a peace loving city with a major chunk of its population being strict vegetarian due to ethical reasons. About 20% of them follow Jainism, the most non-violent religion of the world. So we started with an offline signature campaign among this community.
Unfortunately, some people who had offered to print pamphlets for generating awareness about this campaign backed off. So we put all the text matter on a banner and put it at places wherever we find a good crowd for the people to read it.
Although it was a little slow and laborious process but we were successful to garner over 1,000 signatures in support of this campaign. We wish to collect at least 5,000 signatures offline before we hand over the petition to the Home Minister of our State.
Local government is working clandestinely on this project. We are not even allowed to enter the site of the project nor do we get any official details about this project. I'm traveling to Jaipur (the state capital) today to attend a hearing on this matter. Hopefully, it may open the roads to some more information about this project. I'll update you when I get that.
After receiving the support from local residents, we now look forward to get support from rest of the world as this project is being initiated with the tourists' money in mind. We shall be glad if you extend your support here whole-heartedly.
Kindly take some time out to sign this online petition to express your support to this campaign.
Donations are also accepted for this cause. Your contribution can save life of thousands of aquatic animals.
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