What if you were among a crowd of 1,500 people unexpectedly submerged in water and uncertain whether you’d be able to breathe again? That is the human equivalent of what each fish experienced early on the morning of December 16 when a downtown Berlin hotel’s 50-foot-high aquarium burst, scattering suffocating sea life everywhere. This is a wake-up call for everyone in Berlin and around the world to reexamine speciesism and take action for animals displayed as if they were nothing more than hotel wall art.
As hundreds of thousands of gallons of saltwater spilled through shattered glass into the hotel lobby and onto the street, 1,500 tropical fish were forced to endure rapid pressure changes and violently propelled in every direction. One hundred firefighters closed off the compromised area around the Radisson Collection Hotel, located near the central square of Alexanderplatz. Guests were evacuated, including two who were rushed to the hospital, reportedly to have shards of glass removed.
As it was just 19 degrees Fahrenheit outside, multiple observers reported seeing many of the fish frozen to death on the street. Designed to wrap around an elevator, the central, cylindrical tank that burst—known as the AquaDom and built in 2003—held 264,000 gallons of saltwater, and almost all the fish hurled from it were deemed unlikely to survive. Rescuers focused instead on saving imperiled fish from smaller, surrounding aquariums in the building, as the incident caused a power outage. While the hotel attempts to restore power, it has a backup plan in place for temporarily relocating the surviving animals.
— Robin Alexander (@robinalexander_) December 16, 2022
The cause of the rupture remains uncertain, but the general consensus is reportedly that some sort of technical defect led to the incident. What is clear is that no fish should ever have been confined this way. Animals exist for their own reasons, not to provide needless and exploitative ambience.
PETA Germany is exploring legal action against this death-trap hotel aquarium and is requesting that a memorial be built at the site to honor the 1,500 marine animals.