05/06/10 Human Fish has no Place in the City!

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Animal Friends condemns the idea of trapping the endangered human fish from the wild and capturing it at the Zoo

Two weeks ago, a "visit" of the human fish as the "main star" that would be temporarily housed at the Zagreb Zoo was announced in the mass media as a great attraction, with the information that the visitors would be able to see it from April 17 until June 20, 2010. As the reason for exhibiting the human fish for the period of two months, the Zoo stated that they wished to help the amphibians through this "attempt at brining their mysterious and mostly insufficiently known world to all" and "drawing the public attention to the threatened species of amphibians and the need to protect them."

It is absurd and incomprehensible that the human fish, which is a strictly protected local species in Croatia, should be exhibited at the Zoo in order to draw attention to its threatened status and its need of protection. It sends a contradictory message to both children and adults, namely that the human fish should not be touched in nature or have its environment threatened, but despite that, the representatives of the institutions have taken it from nature and captured it as an exhibit in order to educate the public that something like this should not be done.

An adequate form of education would be to invite people to experience the beauty of nature and the uniqueness of the human fish by observing it in its natural environment, a message on which the touristic offer of Croatia should be based. We can save the threatened species only if we save their habitat and educate people on the ways to protect them, among which the most successful one would be – leaving them alone!

Animal Friends strongly condemns keeping animals in captivity, considering it outdated and a completely obsolete way of torturing animals. It is almost completely impossible to learn anything about the natural behavior of animals by watching them through cage bars or the glass of aquariums or terrariums, however spacious or attractively arranged those prisons may be in which they have been put against their will. It is especially excruciating for those animals who have been forcibly transferred from their natural habitat into artificially arranged spaces because of the need of educating people on the need of their protection. Wild animals show their nature in their natural environment, and by taking them away from it, all sense of education is entirely lost.

In the 21st century, when we have high technology at our disposal for filming animals in their natural environment and presenting the documentation to the public, such actions against endangered animal species under the pretext of education entirely misses the point, which should be to learn about animals without exploiting and further threatening them. There is no guarantee that the human fish will survive after it has been forcibly exhibited "for educational purposes" and then returned to its natural habitat. Education does not justify trapping animals from nature and bringing them to the city. Those people who are truly interested in raising public awareness on wild animals and their protection should follow the example of World Life Centre in London, which plans the creation of a high-tech Zoo without animals, where visitors will be able to observe the animals over the satellite, in real time, even at very distant places such as the Rain Forest, Great Barrier Reef, or Africa.

It is high time that zoos become an object from the past and that people should become aware of the need to respect other animal species and refrain from endangering them. The only true "stars" are those animals that live in nature undisturbed, not their unfortunate cousins that spend their whole life behind prison bars. Therefore, Animal Friends invites everyone to boycott zoos and to give their voice for the closing down of those animal prisons.

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