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Aquarium Visitors Eat the Animals They Like to Watch

Written by PETA | June 1, 2009
justhungry / CC

On Sunday, a group of visitors to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium took part in what can only be described as one of the most morbid lessons in fish appreciation that we’ve heard of.

After aquarium patrons had had their fill of staring at aquatic animals in glass prisons, they were taken to a back room and taught how to cut up and make raw sushi out of the dead cousins of the fish and crabs they’d just oohed and aahed over.

It’s all part of the aquarium’s “Right Bite” program, which aims to teach people that they can continue eating fish as long as it’s not an “overfished” species. What the program fails to teach its students is that all ocean animals, whether bluefin tuna or Dungeness crabs, feel pain when they are drug up from their watery home in a net and forced to suffocate on the deck of a ship. Did they miss the recent study about crabs?

This institution says it “connects people to the living world,” but it actually teaches visitors—including children—that fish are just things: food without feelings. Any way you slice it, that’s just plain wrong.

Written by Karin Bennett

Commenting is closed.
  • Mike says:

    Christy why are you still here then?

  • M says:

    T I understand how you feel. Some of us are way too sensitive to the suffering of other creatures. The seemingly inhuman behaviour of people who systematically cause pain and suffering to animals can make us despise humans in fact it is difficult not to view us as a virus on the earth. But there are a lot of caring people out there and I believe eventually a more spiritual awareness will see things improve maybe not in our lifetimes but things are moving towards this. Hold on to that thought and believe in the goodness in the majority.

  • T says:

    i want to die. i hate the human race and i hate being apart of it.

  • Christy says:

    Life is so abundant I don’t think eating another living thing is wrong. There’s a way to do it and a way to go about it and I honestly don’t see anything morally wrong with this serviceprogram they are offering. I think it’s in poor taste but to each their own!

  • Sharla Grossman says:

    My husband children and I have recently relocated to the Chicago area. My son is a shark lover. We’ve been to Shedd a couple of times and are thinking of joining. I had NO IDEA that this “event” had taken place. I’m going to do what I can to contact the appropriate persons and share with them OUR concerns. As kosherkeeping Jews who eat vegetarian MOST of the time I taught my children very early in life about not eating “dead pig”. They have a real compassion for ALL animal life when they saw an earthworm on the concrete recently they immediately put it back on soil “to go be with its family” my son declared. I’m by far not a perfect parent nor are my children but we sure do try to make the world a better place for ALL animate beings.

  • Jack says:

    As a vegitarian of many years and supporter of PETA I have some thoughts. While I do not eat meat of any kind for several reasons compassion for animals unwillingness to eat something that has been tortured and genetically modified and for health reasons. I cannot say that I don’t have any leather in my wardrobe. I realize and struggle with this conflict of ethics but realize too that if you wear leather eat ANY animal drive a car or any number of a thousand things that harm a living thing then pass judgement on others…is hypocritical. We all do things that harm and so to pass judgement on others only exposes hypocitical traits in ourselves. Instead of trying to tell people who eat meat wear leather or hunt and fish that they are evil I try to cultivate compassion and try to do less dammageharm each day to animals people and our planet. Further I realize that while many are not as successful as I am many are far more successful at preventing this harm and respecting life. While there is a knee jerk reaction to the idea of a place that is focused on cherishing life giving instruction on ending it. It is worth examing not whether the Shedd is living up to a perfect ideal but acting in the best interest of this life in an imperfect world. The vast majority of living things on this world eat other living things and learning to become more compassionate and responsible may not be the ideal but it may be making things better overall.

  • Kristen says:

    Ok the comment posted by Heather made me lol not because it’s funny but because of the sheer stupidity of most humans and than I thought…you know what they do do that…take the DC zoo for example they have a “petting zoo” with cows and pigs etc while selling hamburgers and hotdogs at their food stands…there is a conservation park in South Africa that has alligators on exhibit and sells alligator burgers on the premise…it even states in their FAQ’s that they do not kill their alligators but obtain the meat from somewhere else…why are people so braindead?

  • Joanna says:

    Considering the life of a dairy cow I would think a quick death preferable. First they are born in a poop covered dairy yard and removed from their mother when all their natural instinct is to be with their mother and nurse. Then they are housed in a bare poop filled area with a bunch of other mother deprived babies and given no chance to graze as they would prefer. They wait patiently until they can be bred. Once they give birth their babies are removed and they are shifted to the milking barn a huge covered concrete slab. There they wait and eat and poop for several years. Never to nurse their babies never to walk in a green pature just stand and breath poop fumes so strong they make you sick and burn your lungs. Once their bodies begin to slow down and their feet and legs deform from standing on concrete after just four or five years when the natural life span is suppose to be 20 years from this endless repeat breeding they are moved to a sluaghter house. At the sluaghter house they bake in the sun waiting for their appointment with death in another poop filled yard. Yeah I really want a glass a milk. Let all the dairies in California go out of business they are cruel and unnecessary. And don’t kid yourself into thinking organic milk is any better. The only significant difference for an organic cow is they get to graze sometimes. Personally I would rather eat a dead animal than force a cow to live like this for a lifetime to have cheese.

  • Doug D says:

    There is a Legal Seafoods right outside of the New England Aquarium in Boston. sigh What’s problematic in their “lesson” about overfishing is that they put value only on particular species of fish over other presumably less important species? This idealogy as it were transcends all humananimal coexistence. We value our poodles like a member of our family but retired race horses? Forget ’em. Chickens and cattle? Fry ’em and forget ’em. Very odd. I blame marketing to a very large extent. The meat industry speaks to us from a very early age and creates these “classes” of animals those that feel pain and sleep in our beds with us vs. those that are soulless walking barbques. Pretty sickening when you think about it.

  • Rita says:

    Our zoo and I imagine most zoos have places where you can get hot dogs pepperoni pizza philly cheesesteaks etc. And I always point out to my mom that it’s so sad people go there to look at and admire animals and learn something…and then they turn around and eat an animal. “Yeah it’s sad” my mom usually says while eating her own hot dog. Argh. I’m a vegetarian.

  • Barbara says:

    This reminds me of all of the barbques they have at Woodland Zoo here in Seattle. It makes me sick. At my last job they had their “summer pinic” there. I declined to attend. There is a “petting zoo” there complete with all of the farmyard animals that people so enjoy petting and oohing and ahhing over one minute and then roasting them the next just outside of the zoo … no doubt the animals held captive inside can smell what’s going on.

  • Kelley says:

    MegDairy farmers here in PA are in the same boatmilk sells for less in the stores than it costs them to “produce” it. I am waiting to hear about upcoming slaughters im my state as well.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    Mac I have not a clue why this is going on but the Orange County Register might have the article online. I do know some farmers are selling their herds to dairies in other states and getting out of the business. The article was in last Friday’s edition.

  • mac says:

    Meg There has to be something wrong with your cattle statement. There is no other state I know where milk is that cheap. If this is true about the 68 cents why are farmers NOT contracting with other states to ship milk? They get money from that and stay in business. Personally I think there’s something wrong with this statement and if this is a fact there needs to be something done about it. Suffering to be milked a bit more is better than just killing an animal for food. Then you have to raise new ones for milk when things get turned around causing more problems environmentally. BTW there is no such thing as sea kittens. I wish you guys would quit doing that it makes PETA look silly and frankly is disrespectful to the fish.

  • DDD says:

    Eating the fish you think beautiful that is us. Eat everything and not care what it is. Why do we consume everything possible? Its wrong. But a shark might feel the same way when it eats its prey.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    My first reaction was You have to be kidding!! But then I thought Hey wait a minute… Most people today do not seem to have a clue where their food comes from. So I say why not show them? Let people go to a petting zoo and handle a cute calf and then sit them down to a plate of osso bucco and tell them about veal? When I was a kid in school we toured the Starkist Tuna processing plant every year. We watched to whole process from the fish being dumped off the boats onto the dissembly line where we watched as they were cut up fileted and packed into cans. We were each given a can of tuna to take home as a souvenier. Yippee. What I mainly remember about those tours was the smell. Nothing like the smell of dead sea kittens in the morning!! I don’t know what is happening in other states but according to my local newspaper the Orange County Register we are about to have a massive dairy cow holocaust because dairy farmers cannot make enough money on the milk they sell to stay in business. I did notice while I was at the supermarket buying a $4.00 carton of 8th Continent Soymilk great taste and great for keeping cholesterol low by the waythat a quart of cow’s milk was 68 cents. I guess those California Cows are not going to be so happy when they are in Unhappy Meals at McDonalds.

  • Joanna says:

    It’s so easy and fun to make veggie sushi. The Aquarium should have had a fun workshop on how to make veggie sushi as an alternative to killing fish. Try a roll filled with a spicy jarred tapenade of roasted eggplant or olives with slices of crisp cool cucmumber and a little bright red roasted red pepper. Yum

  • Pepsi One is Fun says:

    So I guess trying to get fish known as sea kittens was given up? Because this has to be the first fish related article where fish weren’t called sea kittens.

  • Gina says:

    THIS IS JUST AWFUL what the hell is wrong with these people? Animals don’t deserve this to happen to them. Ugh!

  • Brien Comerford says:

    I am a Chicagoan and read the very unsettling article about Shedd Aquarium visitors being taught to make sushi. If zoos and aquariums truly want to be places that advocate animal welfare they should only serve vegetarian entrees and snacks.

  • Heather says:

    That is pretty backwards. Can you imagine the outrage if a zoo had a similar program where after the visitors get a tour of the birds and hoofed animals go to another room and sample ostrich and camel meat? What the Shedd Aquarium is doing is no different and sets a bad example if respect and conservation is their goal. It seems like their true mission is just making money.

  • Kelley says:

    What can one possibly say about this? I have the same reaction I get when our local nokill shelter holds its fundraisers at a westernbig game style saloon. Yeah rightsave dogs and cats but make money for them by serving up cows boar antelope and god only knows what else…

  • Tula says:

    Seeing the fish alive connects them to the living world? So why not go the whole way and take the visitors to the dead world by having them kill cut and eat these sea creatures this will really connect them to the world of cruelty first hand.