Appalled at Aquarium

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 18, 2014

Dear Editor,
    As a visitor, I recently went to the new Austin Aquarium. I was really appalled at what I saw. The sea life there is living in very small enclosures that in no way represents life in the wild. Little kids are allowed to put their hands in the tanks with the stingrays and other sea life without being made to wash their hands. There is a sink at the front door of the aquarium, but kids and adults are not told to wash their hands. Very bright spotlights shine on the reptiles, birds, and other animals and I can't help but wonder how hot those lights are.
    There are so many things wrong at this aquarium, I really don't know where to start. The small tanks holding the snakes provide them no room to move. A few snakes were coiled up in their water dishes trying to cool down. A large tortoise was being held in a small child's swimming pool so that children could touch it. The octopus was not on display, and when I inquired as to where it was, I was informed it was in the back while the tank was being acclimated.
    A number of the exhibits were empty, and again I was told the animals were in the back. If this is how the animals are held on display, I would hate to see how they are being held in the "back."
    Do the owners of this aquarium have all necessary permits for the corals and animals being held here? If not, this place should be immediately shut down. I can't imagine any qualified person with a degree in veterinary medicine would approve of the living conditions at the Austin Aquarium.
    The Austin Aquarium looks like nothing more than a pet store display or a cheap petting zoo. It has no business calling itself an aquarium. The fact that it exists in a mall says it all. I hope that city officials or the Humane Society will do what they can to shut this place down.
Gwen McKenna
Sarasota, Fla.
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