Why Do Fish Keep Dying in the Pond on the National Mall?

Published by PETA.

After hundreds of fish died in the Constitution Gardens pond at the National Mall as a result of the heat wave in Washington, D.C., PETA sent a letter today to National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis urging him not to restock the pond. We pointed out that thousands of fish died in the same pond during a heat wave in 2013 and that its shallow depth and poor construction mean that it cannot maintain a balanced ecological environment.

Constitution Gardens Pond© iStock.com/Lyubov Timofeyeva

“Fish are intelligent, sensitive individuals, and the barren, ornamental pond at Constitution Gardens deprives them of the complex environment they need to thrive,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is urging the National Park Service, which admits that this pond has been a death trap for fish since it was built in 1976, to stop restocking it.”

Fish have distinct personalities, develop relationships, talk to each other, show affection through gentle rubs, and grieve when their companions die. They can remember past social interactions with other fish and recognize individual humans. They also have complex nervous systems and exhibit pronounced reactions to contact with painful stimuli, including strong muscular contractions, rapid breathing, and avoidance.

Dr. Sylvia Earle, one of the world’s leading marine biologists, says:

“I wouldn’t deliberately eat a grouper any more than I’d eat a cocker spaniel. They’re so good-natured, so curious. You know, fish are sensitive, they have personalities, they hurt when they’re wounded.”

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind