Guangzhou’s Grandview Mall has recently drawn negative global attention over its Ocean World attraction, with some going as far as to call it “one of the saddest zoos in the world.”
The aquarium/zoo, which advertises in a number of prominent Guangzhou Metro stations, features five walrus calves, six juvenile beluga whales, two arctic wolves and two ‘polar bears’ (although we agree with The Washington Post’s assessment that Ocean World's bears look more like polar–brown bear hybrids).
The attraction has drawn a fair bit of criticism, particularly from Chinese netizens, with one Weibo user suggesting the owner of Ocean World should be kept in a fishbowl for the rest of his life.
According to The Washington Post, Animals Asia, a Hong Kong-based animal welfare organization (which recently held an event in Guangzhou), stated the conditions at Ocean World are “horrifying” and described the attraction as a “prison for animals.”
The current upset over the zoo’s conditions is the result of a Chinese article that criticized the beluga exhibit's dirty water, a dead grouper and the tiny whale shark enclosure. The story was a social media sensation that incited some well-deserved outrage.
A report from Global Times also claims that Ocean World was recently scrutinized by the Guangzhou Ocean and Fishery Bureau, which determined some animals were hurt or died while being moved to the aquarium.
While Grandview Mall Ocean World declined The Washington Post’s requests for comment, manager Li Chengtang was allegedly quoted in Chinese media as stating the attraction offers its animals (read: prisoners of the animal kingdom) a big enough area to live and play and that experts are monitoring the animals’ health.
We staunchly disagree with Li’s claim that Ocean Park’s animals are provided with enough space. In the photo below, two Arctic wolves are shown trapped in a depressingly small pen. In the wild, these animals have territory regularly exceeding 1,000 square miles. If Li sincerely believes his enclosures are large enough for the animals they house, we humbly suggest he do some basic research.
“While those behind this may claim this (exhibit) as education, it’s clear the motivation here is bottom line profit,” said Dave Neale, Animal Asia’s Welfare Director, in a recent blog post. “As long as businesses are allowed to use animals in this manner, wealth will always be put ahead of welfare.”
While the aquarium (read: animal concentration camp) has drawn in a fair number of visitors, Neale has found hope in the fact that not everyone visiting the attraction left feeling impressed.
“What is clear is that a significant section of Chinese society will not accept this, and the negativity surrounding the Grandview Aquarium is the only thing that will challenge developments like this.”