Arctic blues? South China mall under fire for new ‘polar world’
Guangzhou shopping centre opens aquarium with 500 species but critics say animals are suffering
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 January, 2016, 10:48pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 January, 2016, 10:50pm
id the enclosures were too small and the mainland already had an overabundance of zoos.
Visitors to the Grandview Mall Aquarium were sparse on Friday morning, the first day after the launch. Most of the patrons were young children accompanied by their parents or grandparents.
The facility spans 58,000 square metres across the second and third floor, and calls itself as the “world’s largest indoor above-ground polar marine world”. It claims to have 500 species on display, including 30,000 marine animals.
But a visit to the aquarium found some of the animals displaying troubling symptoms.
An Arctic wolf is put on display. Some of the blue paint around the grate has been scratched off. Photo: SMP Pictures
The wolf scratched at the glass and the walls of its enclosure, causing the paint – which depicts the bluish hues of the Arctic – to fall off.
Another Arctic wolf, caged in an area behind the enclosure, was also found pacing and appeared agitated.
Six beluga whales, each about 2 meters long, were swimming in a glass tank about four metres deep, six metres wide and 15 metres long.
Deeper into the interior of the facility, three Adlie penguins were fenced off on a small patch of snow. Staff said they would be isolated for 20 days to prevent them from swimming and falling ill as they moult.
Four walruses were seen swimming in a tank around one metre in height, one metre in width and five metres in length.
The Guangzhou Zhengjia Group which runs the Grandview Aquarium, issued a “Biodiversity Conservation Proposal” on Thursday, promising that all animals were acquired through formal and legal channels, and that the aquarium would operate according to relevant laws and rules.
But an animal welfare specialist criticised the facility as too small for the animals.
It’s obvious that it is not used to the extremely small space HE YONG, INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR ANIMAL WELFARE
He Yong, the China director for campaigns and communications at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said the inadequate enclosures would seriously damage the animals’ mental and physical well-being.
Three Adlie penguins are fenced off on a patch of snow. Photo: SMP Pictures
“The Arctic wolf pacing around and scratching at the walls shows its mental health has already been badly damaged,” he said.
“It’s obvious that it is not used to the extremely small space.
“If these animals are captured in the wild, it is even more problematic,” he said. “Wild animals belong to the wild.”
He said China has “too many” zoos and marine worlds, many of which are “in very poor conditions”.
The Sunday Morning Post contacted the Grandview Aquarium for comment but there was no immediate reply.
Two beluga whales in their tank at the Grandview Mall Aquarium. Photo: SMP Pictures
Tickets ranged from 208 yuan (US$32 or HK$246) to 260 yuan.
International animal welfare charities have long criticised the authorities on the mainland for not doing enough to protect wildlife and domestic animals from cruelty and abuse.
Their complaints include the demand in China for often endangered animals as food or as ingredients in medicines.