Cresta Shopping Centre’s aim to launch South Africa’s first and only mall-based aquarium early next year has been met with opposition from animal activist groups.
The project, once completed, will introduce visitors to over 30 species of fish, with the aim to make the centre a leisure destination for the whole family, Randburg Sun reports.
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After thorough planning over the past two years, the project will kick off with the first stages of construction this month, taking place in the centre of the food and entertainment court.
However, animal activist group Ban Animal Trading South Africa is against the project and took part in a protest action against the aquarium on October 6.
The group suggests that the centre should look at an alternative means of entertainment for shoppers.
The group’s Prathna Singh said: “For us, we don’t see what the need or purpose is for entertainment. It is clearly going to be a glorified fish tank. Some of the species that we have heard will be introduced do not do well in captivity compared to other species.”
The group, which has protested against similar aquariums in Durban and Port Elizabeth, tries to raise awareness of animal trading and the captivity of any animal for entertainment purposes.
Singh continued: “Exhibits that keep animals in captivity; including zoos, aquariums, and circuses; are an old and dying-out form of entertainment.
“We feel that keeping a fish in a tank is just as bad as keeping a dolphin at a theme park. Animals should be wild and free.
“We hope to be meeting with Cresta’s management soon to engage with them so that they can see things from our point of view, and perhaps provide an alternative form of entertainment for their shoppers that do not use wild animals.”
According to a press statement, the centre has partnered with the best in aquarium construction and with marine consultants to ensure the project and construction is a success, as well as ensuring the safety and happiness of the ocean life being introduced, and that of shoppers.
General manager of Cresta Shopping Centre Virginia Bester said: “As a centre, we pride ourselves in bringing innovative and all-encompassing shopping experiences to our shoppers and tenants. The ‘Life under the Sea’ Aquarium launching in early 2019 gives us the opportunity to provide more entertainment and now edutainment, under one roof.”
With a sophisticated design and planning process, the aquarium forms part of a two-year expansion and modernisation project.