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Wal-Mart Gives Homeless Fish to PETA

Written by PETA | July 18, 2008

fishThis story’s got it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s just sort of in reverse order. Think: bad beginning but great ending for a few hundred fish and snails!

On an average day, PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department receives dozens of phone calls from caring individuals who have witnessed—and wish to report—cases of animal abuse. One recent tip came from a Wal-Mart customer, who overheard employees say that the store was undergoing renovations and that it would no longer be selling fish. In theory, that’s good news. Unsold fish would have been “dry-bagged,” causing them to suffocate to death.

Our Cruelty Investigations Department immediately swam into action. The result: Wal-Mart agreed to give all the fish to PETA, and our staff rushed to pick them up—with no time to spare. Several hundred fish and snails were removed and many are now living in the lap of luxury with PETA staffers.

This is, I’m sure, a welcome change for the fish, who are intelligent little animals (they can even eavesdrop just as we do!).

While we ordinarily would never advocate putting any fish in a tank, these little guys—who would have suffered a prolonged, terrifying death—are now swimming, jumping, and diving their way around their new spacious tanks, which are full of plants, clean water and shipwreck loads of stimulation to keep them happy. Thanks to the PETA staffers who have graciously provided these fish with a great new home!

Posted by Jennifer Cierlitsky

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  • Jamie Robinson says:

    I’m a member of PETA but this story bothers me and I’m surprised no one else has mentioned it. On one hand you’re saying it’s horrible to put fish in tanks however on the other hand it seems as long as fish are placed in special PETA tanks then they can swim and dive and be happy? I’m an experienced fish keeper I don’t over stock I watch chemical levels in my tanks and my fish are happy and healthy. To say that fish are only happy in a tank when they’ve been rescued by PETA is rediculous.

  • Tom says:

    The ChampaignUrbana IL walmart stores fish tanks are a very depressing sight. Its obvious nobody ever does much more than add water and the betas fighting fish are kept in little plastic dixie cup size containers without air holes. 80 of the fish are always ill looking and seen eating their own dead which happens then there is zero food. I have spoken to management a few times to no avail. Just seems weird to me people don’t seem to me Walmart doesn’t take better care which would translate into profit.

  • Christina says:

    Hi everyone.. First off I was wondering how to go about filing a complaint report upon WalMart for their fish abuse. For weeks I’ve been calling leaving messages being put on hold as if it doesn’t matter. The story is like this.. I live in Elgin IL and the closest WalMart to our house has the worst looking fish living conditions around. My younger sister and I recently ‘saved’ 4 green spotted puffer fish from the store spoke with the manager in trying them to not purchase any more. Their tank was covered in their own waste dead green spotted puffer fish tons and tons of green alge to the point where it was growing OVER the dead fish AND they had not been feeding the fish. I went back last night to look at the fish conditions and it seems they’ve put More puffer fish in the tank babies and more of their other fish are suffering. They now have Lobsters in tanks with the fish are being sold as tank makes.. in these small 2.5 gallon tanks.. even as the lobsters are around 7 inches long in some cases stuck under the filters. I’m going back today to talk again with the manager. Our puffer fish are doing much better are bigger healthier in their 2 10 gallon tanks.. But I want it to stop. It’s sad and disgusting.

  • Nicole G. says:

    Walmart is still selling fish…a friend of mine bought a Betta there and heshe was sold in a small plastic container with an inch or two of cloudy water!!!! What can be done to stop Walmart from selling fish besides sending a letter to the CEO of Walmart?

  • Anon says:

    I wish I could help as well. I will donate when im older for sure. YOU GUYS ROCK!

  • Tamara says:

    Sundance where are you located? You know about Mickaboo! I am like their biggest fan! They are THE BEST EVER rescue for birds they rescue my favorites parakeets. They go to chain pet stores and look for birds in distress just everything and they do it. I wish I could volunteer for them. I am in the Midwest though and they are in San Fran area. I donate when I can but have more time than money. MICKABOO ROCKS!

  • sundance says:

    Maya Actually I have mostly seen at garage sales where the people are selling the ‘tank’. Funny people do not actually try and sell the fish too often. If you ask to see the tank…it sometimes has fish in it! I once saved fish the owner had put in a bucket while he was busy selling the tank. Yes it’s pretty much like putting a dog house for sale in your yard with the dog chained to it. When some body decides to buy the dog house you take the dog out back and kill it. That is mostly what happens to fish when people move. There is such a thing as humane euthanasia for fish. Really ‘dry bagging’ fish should be illegal. Dumping in the toilet is also very cruel. WalMart could have easily asked a vet to the store and the vet could have given humane euthanasia to the fish in the store. It is not very expensive or difficult to do it right. A few drops of a certain additive is all it takes to put the fish ‘to sleep’ peacefully. There is no excuse for making the fish suffer certainly it is no fault of theirs that they ended up in a store’s discontinued rack. It’s too bad there is not a Mickaboo Parrot Rehoming and Rescue for fish. Many fish people are aware of their fishes needs its the general pet owning public and the retailers who are completely in the dark ages. Online you can find much information about care and humane treatment. I believe if the retailers had a more enlightened attitude they would mentor the pet buyers about humane treatment. Instead the retailers are total Aholes and people never get any idea that their fish friends are just like any other pet and need compassionate care for their entire life. As a protest we could get alot of really hot babes to stage in faux bags and act like suffocating fish. Maybe people could understand that.

  • Brandie R says:

    Ah I see there is an exception to EVERY rule! If someone were buying one of these little fish that would be so terrible. But since PETA raced into action and saved all these darling little fish and snails now that they are stting pretty in their tanks that is the exception to the rule. I don’t think that PETA does an extremely good job of educating people. I did not ever know that having a pet fish could be harmful to it’s life. PETA should do a better job of getting the word out. I never hear anyone speak of PETA and the only way I find things out is because I am smart enough to get on the website. But you can’t blame people when they are ignorant to the the things ya’ll speak about. Do your job and educate. I don’t see PETA anywhere but on the net complaining and wondering why people are so ignorant to the things PETA is against.

  • liliana says:

    Thanks to that costumer too

  • angie from Richmond, Virginia says:

    Walmart should not be allowed to carry fish in the first place.I finally reported a local walmart to PETA myself a couple of years ago after months of reporting condition of fish to manager to no prevail.Finally after a phone call to PETAthis particular Walmart had all their fish removed.Never knew for a fact that PETA was behind thatbut I believe so.So I thank you PETA!

  • Maya, C.V.T. says:

    Sundance I loved your comment. I learned a ton reading it. I hope there are in fact online pet adoption places. They were selling their fish at a garage sale? That is so sad. Wouldn’t it be so hysterical to suggest that someone put out their dog at a garage sale and put a price on him? Well it’s no less outrageous to sell a pet fish that way. I won’t sleep properly until all pet stores are shut down. Selling exotic animals is unacceptable. In the meantime fish that are pets need people like Sundance to teach them true proper care. The pet store information is the absolute worst. And breeding in captivity is just as bad as poaching them from the wild. ps Never release an exotic pet into the wild they will die and will spread captivitybased diseases to the entire population of wild animals.

  • UnderMySkinner says:

    You know I can’t stand Walmart for a number of reasons from it’s support of humnan rights violations to the slaughter and degradation of civilians in Africa directly caused by the company and its greed. And hearing about what they were going to do with this marine life doesn’t surprise me at all after all their track record clearly shows it’s the company way. This shopper would be doing the world a service by no longer shopping at Walmart. That aside I’m so glad PETA once again stepped in to save the day. I know PETA’s been linked to some wrong doing or questionable activity in the past but a few bad seeds does not make a bad organization in my opinion. And some bad choices in the past does not mean the future is set in stone and that changes can’t be made. So once again thank you to everyone involved.

  • brooke meservey says:

    thats great!!! I also want to say if you guys need homes for any fish or snails please email me i have many spacious fish tanks in my house waiting for accupants. thanks. P.S. seriously email me i am ready to help.

  • Nunya says:

    So do you have a planned release into the wild for them soon?

  • Beckie Mayfield says:

    That’s great! It’s nice to see WalMart do something decent for a change although I still hate everything WalMart stands for.

  • David says:

    If PETA never advocates putting any fish in a tank why did the PETA staffers have aquariums in the first place to house the WalMart fish?

  • Maya, C.V.T. says:

    You guys warm my heart with stories like this. Thanks PETA staffers! There needs to be a radical change in how exotic pet owners buy animals. We need to start a “homeless fish” online shelter that will prevent pet stores from selling fish. This can apply for reptiles birds etc. Pet stores breed exotic animals to live in cages and others take them right out of the wild. We can put a stop to this by only adopting out exotics already in people’s homes.

  • shawnee says:

    i just wish a world with no animal abusechild abuse and adulterywhy cant we just get along animals love us but most of us dont love them back im a BIG animal luver plz help the animals plz

  • lynda downie says:

    Aaaaaaaw! I loved this story. And a beautiful image you gave us Jennifer! I can actually feel and hear the water gurgling and see the little guys jumping and swimming from here!

  • Danielle says:

    Those poor little fishes. It was good you saved them all. I was going to offer to take care of some since I have some fish.

  • Christopher Cochran MD says:

    This seems like a good thing. I wonder why they didn’t make some effort to place the fish prior to PETA’s invitation?

  • Cathy says:

    Awesome it’s great to hear a happy ending. How cruel for Walmart to suffocate them and not even try to give them away or sell them out. I guess it’s just business as usual.

  • animal lovaaa says:

    nice story…u guys do great work and i commend you on most of what you do but you’re freakin crazy!!!

  • sundance says:

    Hey PETA Anytime fish are transferred suddenly from one environment to another they are really very stressed and usually face increased mortality rates as a result. I am sure your staffers did the best they could and any new tank is better than a dry bag. However your post made it seem like wisking fish around from place to place was okay so long as you put a decoration in the tank. It would be so helpful if people REALLY knew how sensitive fish are. They are not just ‘intelligent’ they are largely made up of water. When their water environment changes pH mineral hardness or temperture it forces their bodies thru extreme physical stress to reach equilibrium again. PETA should campaign to improve information provided by fish retailers to inform their buyers about the fish better. Although I no longer purchase anything from PETCO or PetSmart their fish are usually diseased and stressedI have bought fish in both stores. Their staff routinly give out bad advice. The staff will sell people fish for a single community tank that belong in two totally different water environments. They will sell soft water fish for a hard water tank and tell a buyer it does not mater. This forces the fish to suffer and die slowly or live in marginal conditions. Information readily available on fish websites and in books is not available at the point of purchase when people are selecting fish. Even if the lables on the tanks had a little symbol for the water type the fish prefer so buyers could select fish that belong in the same water things could be much better. I have been repeatedly told by staffers at the stores…not to worry..if the fish dies bring it back and they will replace it. Not only is the fish likely to die from sudden water changes…it is going to suffer. If also been told not to buy medications for minor aliments becuase it would be cheaper to replace the fish. On a lighter note and some fun look up clicker training for fish…or see httpuk.youtube.comwatch?vZuLctFODsTcfeaturerelated Fish really are pretty amazing and they belong out in the real world where they get environemntal enrichment at a level they were adapted for. Putting an oscar fish in a tank is about the same as putting a chicken in a cage without anything to do or interact with. Working to protect wild fish habitats is critical in many parts of the world. Wild guppies are highly selective and work with each other to avoid predators. There really are no dumb fish becuase the wild world they are from is complex. People should also research any fish they think they might buy or adopt. Some fish are imported from wild stocks in Indonesia and Africa. Even though the retailers claim they are not selling wild fish….they do. The people in the countries that have the fish collect the fish as babies from the wild and take them to a fish farm where they are raised to commercial size. Then they are shipped to US stores as farmed fish. There are fish species known to have NEVER reproduced in captivity that are retailed in stores. How can the fish be ‘farm raised’ if they do not reproduce in captivity. If you go to PetSmart today and ask the staff if the Burmese Clown Loaches are ‘wild’ they will say no…all the fish are farmed. This is absolutly not true Loaches are wild bred only. Another amazing thing is there is no place to easily take unwanted fish. I think people routinely ‘dump’ fish becuase there is no rescue organization ready to accept them. I’d say the retailers should have a return policy…but becuase the retailers kill more fish than anybody that would be pointless. I see regular ads on Craigslist for fish that need rehoming. I have myself taken many fish from garage sales that were going to be dumped. It’s so sad people do not understand that the fish are sensitive and they are not just disposable products. I took an oscar fish that was in a class room from a teacher that was going to dump her as soon as the kids left for summer break. I have had this fish for 12 YEARS! I had to buy an above ground pond to keep her in…and she is highly interactive. Some fish can live 20 years and longer. People really need to think twice before putting a fish like that thru years of isolation and environmental deprivation. Some animals are not appropriate for pets ever….like wild fish. If you do keep fish challenge all your assuptions about what they are like and create a stimulating enviroment for them. Some like to try and ‘catch’ their food. Some really like a complex tank where they can weave through and around a maze of tank furniture. Others like company and an open tank to schoal in. I made a little thing that is basically like a kong for a dog and my oscar gets really exceited when I load it with food and let her work for a meal. Treat your fish like other pets and make no assumptions about them being dumb. The up side of keeping fish is they teach us so much about water quality and the impact it has on life. I do think all children should have the experience of caring for some fish. It teaches them about the environment. Without a true understanding of how fish can die if the water is low oxygen or polluted I do not think they learn the importance of taking are of the environment. If we humans do not learn about the environment there will be no fish anywhere. Raising fish that are fairly well adapted to captive life is much better than keeping the truely wild ones that just suffer mentally the whole time they survive in a tank. Kind of like the difference between keeping a domestic cat and keeping a wild bobcat.

  • Meley says:

    u guys rock i hope that i get to help you guys in a big way when I grow up

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