I recently read the article “Is the Austin Aquarium Fishy?
” by Jordan Smith [News, Oct. 18]. I found this article particularly interesting because I have always been surprised that the city of Austin doesn’t already have an individual aquarium facility or exhibit at the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary. Although, after reading this article about the past of the Covino family and their operations of their other aquariums in Idaho and Oregon, I’m apprehensive to say that I’m excited about the opening of the Austin Aquarium at the end of this year.
Personally, I have never been a big fan of taking naturally wild animals and placing them in captivity for the entertainment and amusement of humans. According to the Humane Society of the United States, animals in a tank environment are forced to live a limited and monotonous life instead of flourishing in a three-dimensional natural environment where they are free to move about. The U.S. government allows the capture of wild marine mammals for public display by arguing that it serves an educational and conservation purpose, but the Humane Society states that it is proven that public display does not effectively educate the public and that profit is the main motive for conducting traumatic and stressful captures of marine animals, and that tank environments do not present a realistic image of natural behaviors or natural habitats. I agree with the Humane Society and feel that these facts combined with the sketchy actions of the Covino family thus far in bringing an aquarium to Austin should raise a few eyebrows among the Austin community in support of the aquarium.
This article also seemed to present a murky view of the facts, so I look forward to a follow-up story that provides the real truth and better informs the Austin public on whether we should be excited about the establishment of an aquarium or skeptical and supportive of efforts for stricter regulation. I was also struck by the final quote from Vince Covino about depriving an 8-year-old of an “amazing place” due to the promulgation of a lie, but I think teaching our future generations to respect and appreciate animals in their natural habitat is more important than providing a spectacle that could be harmful and stressful to the animal.