While the ongoing Sea World Expo 2014 at Valluvar Kottam continues to draw visitors, animal lovers have been frowning at many practices at the expo.
With a ticket costing Rs. 50 for adults, the public can gaze at a variety of fish housed in medium-sized tanks.
Giresh Nair, a fish hobbyist who visited the expo with his family, said many of the fish were found cowering in fear, terrified of the environment.
“In many fish, the eyes were enlarged, indicating they were under a lot of stress. They also nudged themselves into crevices to avoid being seen by the visitors,” he said.
Shahul, owner of Aquarium Centre, gave away one live fish to every visitor who produced his/her ticket. He said, “I ensure the oxygen and water levels in the packets are of the right amount, before sealing the fish in them. These fish can survive six hours after they are thus packed to be transported.”
Mr. Nair said he was shocked to see this happening. “The fish are already stressed when they are transported in such packets. The usual practice would be to wrap such packets in a black polythene cover to ensure they are not too stressed out by the light. This too is not being done,” he added.
Another visitor and animal volunteer, Nivetha, said it was very wrong to give away fish purely as a marketing gimmick. “Buying or adopting a pet should be a conscious decision and not one that should be taken lightly,” she says.
K. Venkataraman, director, Zoological Survey of India, said, “It is a great concern when fish are given away in this manner to every visitor, especially to those who have little or no idea how to rear aquarium fish.”
The expo also has a section where visitors can take pictures with birds, rabbits and guinea pigs. Kumar, proprietor of AVR Pets, said he had to clip the wings of these exotic birds, in order to prevent them from flying around while visitors pet them.
KSSVP Reddy, chief conservator of forests and director, Vandalur Zoo, told The Hindu that exotic birds do not come under the purview of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, as they are not part of the scheduled wildlife species listed in the Act.
The expo, which commenced on January 14, will end on Sunday.