After a giant fish tank burst at the T-REX Cafe in Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida—sending employees scrambling to save the fish—PETA dashed off a letter to the restaurant’s owners asking them to remove the aquariums permanently and stop putting live animals on display.
Fish are born to dwell in the majestic seas, but when they’re forced to swim in endless circles in captivity, their lives become an interminable limbo. Research has shown that fish are intelligent animals who can recognize individuals, learn from one another, use tools, and maintain complex social relationships. They communicate with one another through barks, clicks, squeaks, and other low-frequency sounds that we can hear only with underwater microphones. The constant buzz of tank filters and pumps as well as outside noises greatly stress fish and can even interfere with their communication. Fish expert Phillip Lobel says that “at the least, we’re disrupting their communication; at worst, we’re driving them bonkers.” A loud, crowded dining room is simply no place for fish.
As PETA points out in the letter to T-REX, the restaurant can still make a splash with diners by installing an aquarium filled with captivating blown-glass fish or fully operational robotic fish or by setting up a huge plasma TV screen showing continuous footage of sea animals in their natural homes. These options offer the same beauty and calming effects of a live-animal aquarium minus the cruel confinement and costly upkeep.