Most of the time, I write about places I want you to visit in Kaohsiung and the surrounding area. Today, I would like to tell you about a place I hope you do not go and do not support with your money. I made the mistake of going and have since felt guilty about it.
Near Cheng Ching Lake in Kaohsiung there is a park in which families spend their Sunday afternoons grilling, picnicking, and playing. The park is a lovely place on a warm sunny day. Within this complex, there is a bright blue building. I’m not sure if most people realize it or not, but this is an underground aquarium built in one of President Chiang Kai Shek’s old bunkers.
Certainly, the location is great. Underground, you get to feel like you are reliving Taiwan’s tumultuous history. You can even see the former president’s spacious bathroom if you’d like. But, what the people running the aquarium are doing to the “exotic marine life” on exhibit is absolutely horrendous.
Although there may have been more abuses to the captive marine life that I know nothing about, I noticed two major abuses in particular.
First, the aquarium houses a large nurse shark, roughly 4 feet in length and 2 feet in width. However, the shark is noticeably deprived of space and activity. The tank in which it is kept appears to be only 6 feet long by 3 feet wide. I have read that as a general rule, nurse sharks need a tank at least two and a half times wider than the shark’s length. This means that this shark should have a tank that is at least 10 feet wide. Deducting actual width from needed width results in a difference of 7 feet! Just looking in the shark’s eyes made me feel so sad and angry (which is a rarity when we are talking about sharks).
Second, the aquarium is home to at least two sea kraits. The kraits are kept in a small, rectangular 60-gallon tank with one large rock in the middle. This is maltreatment of the snakes for several reasons. 1. Sea snakes should be kept in circular tanks in order to prevent them from damaging their noses on the sharp corners of rectangular tanks. 2. In no way was this tank large enough for the snakes to swim around. 3. Sea snakes require a good deal of rocky areas in which they can recreate their natural behavior of hiding among the rocks. 4. Sea kraits, in particular, need a land area on which to practice their normal on-land behavior. The mistreatment of these animals is a sad and avoidable occurrence.
On another note, this aquarium is not cheap. It costs $100NT for admission to Cheng Ching Lake Park and an additional $150NT for admission to the aquarium. Where is all this money going? It certainly is not contributing to the fair treatment of the aquarium’s inhabitants.
Finally, I must apologize for the terrible photo. I had to secretly take it with my iPhone as there was a strict no photos policy. I wonder why?