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Last Updated: Monday, 27 September, 2004, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Sea life 'suffering in captivity'
The report claims damaging conditions
Widespread physical and mental suffering is experienced by creatures in public aquaria across Scotland, it has been claimed.

The findings in a report entitled Beyond the Glass was compiled by animal welfare group, Advocates for Animals.

It said evidence gathered from nine public aquaria showed most animals had physical health problems.

Aquaria operators insisted they provide a wider public understanding of the dangers posed to aquatic species.

Advocates for Animals has called for an end to the keeping of fish and aquatic invertebrates in public aquaria and for Scotland to "lead other countries towards a more compassionate society".

'Sentient beings'

It claimed the rapid growth of the "highly profitable" aquarium industry had resulted in fiercer competition, which had forced businesses to exhibit uncommon, bigger or different species - bringing new welfare concerns.

Campaigns manager, Lynda Korimboccus, said: "When held captive in an aquarium, aquatic animals live far from natural lives and can suffer terribly as a result.

Staff at Deep Sea Leisure have always maintained the highest standards of care and are very experienced
Sue Elaiho
Deep Sea Leisure
"People are becoming increasingly concerned about the keeping of animals in more traditional zoos, and there is a growing realisation that fish are also sentient beings capable of suffering in captivity."

The report also found that 98% of animals did not belong to species classed as threatened by the World Conservation Union.

An estimated 80% of animals were, contrary to good practice guidelines, caught in the wild, it added.

Deep Sea World in Edinburgh said it was committed to investing and improving the welfare of all creatures under its care.

Deep Sea Leisure director, Sue Elaiho, said the centre worked with the local authority and veterinary support groups to ensure safety checks satisfied modern zoo practice standards.

'Highest standards'

She said: "Staff at Deep Sea Leisure have always maintained the highest standards of care and are very experienced, being trained in animal husbandry techniques and receiving regular inspections by external inspectors.

"The dive team at Deep Sea World in Edinburgh has been helping to rescue distressed local marine life since the company's inception 10 years ago.

"The aquarium is currently working with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) to open a seal sanctuary for injured and orphaned seals at the site from February 2005."

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