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Thursday, March 26, 2015

From the News: Fish May Not Like Being Stadium Backdrop

Earlier this month, I've posted two separate articles about exotic animals in captivity, but not in zoos - elephants in circuses and pet pythons and boas.  Tonight's news blurb, describing a new aquarium display opening up at the stadium of the Miami Marlins, fits into the vein.  Obviously, since I've spent the last two years running this blog, I'm a supporter of zoos and aquariums (or at least the good ones).  But these articles about circuses, exotic pets, and other owners raise an interesting point - who should and shouldn't have animals?

Should private ownership of all species be open to everyone?  Do we draw lines, and how do we draw them?  While the animal rights activists in the article raise some valid points about a baseball stadium maybe not being the ideal place for a fish tank, I doubt that many visitors to the stadium will give it a second thought, other than to say, "Hey, isn't that neat?" before turning their attention to the game.  Besides, many restaurants and stores have fish tanks - isn't this just a greatly expanded version of that theme (albeit with the risk of baseballs smashing into the tank)?

If fish are okay, what about birds?  Would it be okay for Baltimore to build a raven aviary, or Philadelphia to have an eagle exhibit at the stadium?  Right now, Maryland Zoo and Elmwood Park Zoo both house avian mascots for those NFL teams - what if the league decided to just cut out the middle man?  And heaven help us if the Detroit Tigers, the Jacksonville Jaguars, or the Chicago Bears decided to follow this idea to its conclusion.  I guess we should just be glad that there is no team called "The Orcas" - the last thing we need is another Blackfish.

There are some folks in the animal care profession who maintain that ownership and display should be for everyone - an attack on a private owner with a tiger in his yard amounts to an attack on the Bronx Zoo in their eyes.  Most of us, I think, agree that there are some lines, some rules that need to be set, though no one can agree where they should be.  I would feel a lot better about this Miami tank if I got the impression that it was being built with the fish, rather than the fans, in mind.

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