Animal rights activists are known for opposing zoos based on their right to live free from human exploitation, are sentient (able to perceive or feel things), and can show that. There are extreme concerns about the treatment of the animals in captivity, especially sea life. From animal right activists the worry is keeping animals in captivity for our own use is infringement, no matter how well the wildlife is treated.
People who doubt the sentientence of aquatic life is a giant issue because rights of animals is based on sentience and how well they show it. While it's debatable whether a jellyfish or anemone can suffer, it is clear that crabs, fish, penguins and marine mammals do feel pain, are sentient and are therefore deserving of rights.
Some might argue that we should give jellyfish and anemones the benefit of the doubt because there is no compelling reason to keep them in captivity, but in a world where clearly intelligent, sentient beings such as dolphins, elephants and chimpanzees are kept in captivity for our amusement/education, the main challenge is convincing the public that sentience is the determining factor for whether a being has rights, and sentient beings should not be kept in zoos and aquariums.
On the federal level, the federal Animal Welfare Act covers the warm-blooded animals in aquariums, such as marine mammals and penguins, but does not apply to fish and invertebrates - the vast majority of animals in an aquarium. The Marine
Mammal Protection Act offers some protection for whales, dolphins, seals, walruses, sea lions, sea otters, polar bears, dugongs and manatees, but does not prohibit keeping them in captivity. The Endangered Species Act covers endangered species that might be in an aquarium, and applies to all types of animals, including marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates.
Based on all the media surrounding the well-being of mammals in zoos and PETA’s exploitation of Sea World’s treatment of aquatic mammals in the document “Black
Fish,” I began to question the well being of all aquatic life inside of an aquarium setting seeing as this is what I hope my career to be. Which caused me to inquire these questions:
How truly happy and healthy are fish that live in Aquariums?
● Is their size and shapes different?
● Do they swim as much?
● Do they adapt to human contact?
● How do they react to a loud setting?
Based on all of my research into this project I believe that fish aren’t truly happy in aquarium environments, thus if size of tank is sufficiently smaller than the amount of swimming each species does in their natural habitat this would result in smaller size and shaping, along with a lethargic swimming speed, and a reaction to vibrations surrounding the loud setting due to visitors. http://awic.nal.usda.gov/zoo-circus-and-marine-animals http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-in-entertainment/zoos-pseudo-sanctuaries/aq uariums-marine-parks/ Research Plan:
For my research i plan to have two tanks. Tank A.) with 3 fish from different freshwater habitats as they do in any large tank at an aquarium, 8 human figurines around the outside of the tank as a crowd of people, 2 “scuba divers”, fake coral, a small pole to reenact feeding hours, and speakers above the tank playing crowd noise settings to run for 6 hours a day as “visiting hours” ( along with moving the people around and scuba divers). Tank B.) will be a control just three of the same types of fish living normal tank lives with a regular (hopefully real) habitat. I plan on feeding the fish…