Photos are emerging of Grandview Aquarium, located inside a mall in Guangzhou, China. And they’re absolutely horrific.
In one, a white wolf curls up alone in the corner of a stark concrete exhibit.
Animals AsiaIn another, a polar-brown bear hybrid stands on his hind legs in front of the glass, reaching up his head and appearing to cry out.
Animals AsiaA third picture shows what appears to be a grouper lying dead on his side in front of the aquarium glass.
Animals AsiaThough some part of the aquarium appears to have been around for several years, Animals Asia, an international animal welfare organization, says it believes these exhibits just opened on January 9.
The conditions are “horrifying,” Animals Asia reported.
Animals AsiaThat much is clear from the photos. The exhibits are startling in their sparseness, bare concrete cells painted a garish dark blue.
Animals AsiaAmong the animals are two polar-brown bear hybrids, six young belugas and five walrus calves, Animals Asia reported. There’s also at least one wolf and what appears to be a group of Arctic foxes, as well as a whale shark.
Animals AsiaThe animals appear to have little to no enrichment. The foxes’ enclosure consists of a small wooden playhouse, a few logs haphazardly thrown on the floor and some dog bowls.
Animals AsiaThe exhibits appear to be perpetually dark, except for the flashes from tourists’ cameras. One video clip shows a group of visitors banging on the glass to attract the attention of one of the bears.
It’s clear the animals, if kept there, will never see the sun again. Some of them are also forced to perform, according to Animals Asia.
Animals AsiaGrandview recently came under fire in China after a post on WeChat, a Chinese texting and social app, went viral, criticizing the mall for keeping animals in such poor conditions.
Animals AsiaThe aquarium was recently investigated by the Guangzhou Ocean and Fishery Bureau, which found that some animals were injured or died during the move into the aquarium, according to an article in China’s Global Times.
But the aquarium defended itself by saying “their purpose is to popularize science and nurture marine life,” the outlet wrote.
Animals AsiaAnimals Asia and the China Cetacean Alliance also reached out to Haichang Holdings, China’s largest operator of marine parks and the company that runs the aquarium, to outline the welfare issues at Grandview. The groups said they never got a response.
But despite Grandview’s denials, it’s clear the aquarium is a nightmare for the animals kept there.
Animals AsiaPolar bears, belugas and walruses have been known to exhibit stereotypical behavior in captivity, compulsive patterns animals develop to cope with psychological stress; belugas do particularly poorly in captivity, and routinely die decades before their natural life span.
Animals Asia“Taking animals from their natural environments can never be defended, but when they’re rehomed in conditions like we’re seeing at the Grandview Aquarium, it’s the worst possible situation,” Dave Neale, director of animal welfare for Animals Asia, said in a statement. “While those behind this may claim this as education, it’s clear the motivation here is bottom line profit.”
Animals AsiaHe noted that many people in China are opposed to such cruel practices, and continued public pressure is the only way to help the animals.
Animals Asia“We all need to continue to publicly object to such facilities — and for those living locally, we say, ‘So long as animals are suffering, choose somewhere else to shop,'” he added. “Don’t reward cruelty.'”
Animals AsiaIn the meantime, the animals at Grandview’s cruel menagerie will continue to sit in their cells — and stare at those unnatural blue walls.
Animals AsiaWhile the animals’ fate is still uncertain, you can donate to Animals Asia to make sure their story gets out there and help care for the hundreds of animals the group helps every year.