Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium Toronto

Ripley's Aquarium Toronto
Sand Tiger Shark. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

When the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada opened in downtown Toronto a little over a year ago, many were excited that a new tourist attraction had arrived in the city. It was an interesting choice to place an aquarium in Toronto. Toronto really has no ties to tropical wildlife or the ocean – Toronto lies along the shores of Lake Ontario, a freshwater lake with an entirely different ecosystem. Many friends and acquaintances asked me, “So, when will you be going to the aquarium?” knowing that I am an animal and nature lover. There are many reasons why I’ll never visit the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto, and it is primarily because I am an animal and nature lover. Many of these reasons apply to aquariums beyond the one in Toronto and extend to ones you may encounter on your travels.

Wildlife Trafficking

Wait…what’s this about trafficking? Don’t aquariums breed their own fish? Not necessarily when it comes to saltwater fish. Almost all the wildlife kept in saltwater aquariums is captured from coral reefs, with fewer than 5% bred in captivity. Over 11 million reef fish are taken from the oceans each year for aquarium hobbyists and the aquatic exhibits in places like Ripley’s Aquarium. According to the World Wildlife Federation, about 80% of these marine fish die before they are even sold. Out of the ones that survive long enough to be sold, about 90% of those fish die within the first year. The fish simply cannot handle the stress of capture and transport, or the stresses of living in captivity. It just isn’t natural. For every saltwater fish that you see swimming around at Ripley’s, at least eighty have died in its wake. From Right Tourism, “many species selected for aquariums have complex biological and social needs that can rarely be met in captivity.”

Now, the tropical fish industry is a huge money-maker and all for the sake of using animals for our own entertainment purposes. Fraud runs rampant and the numbers of fish that are actually taken from the ocean are often much higher than reported. The trade is valued at over 1 billion dollars per year. In a recent encounter, Sea Shepherd divers that were documenting wildlife trafficking in Hawaii were viciously attacked by fish collectors who were poking and prying sea creatures from the coral reefs. This truly demonstrates how far the collectors of tropical fish are willing to go, nearly murdering a diver in the process because they wished to continue their lucrative endeavors without being exposed.

Environmental Implications

Taking certain species of fish from their natural habitat affects everything else around it. Removing one kind of creature over another leaves the coral reef unbalanced. In Hawaii, many reefs are now threatened by algae suffocation for this very reason. In some cases, sodium cyanide is injected into coral reef to stun fish that are difficult to catch. This poisons the reef and more often than not, the fish itself. Coral reefs are vital to marine life in our oceans. Though they occupy less than 1% of the ocean surface, they are home to a quarter of all marine life. They are also extremely fragile, slow growing, and difficult to repair once they have been destroyed. Removing fish for aquariums is detrimental to our goal of preserving the Earth’s reefs.

The Toronto Aquarium provides no conservation benefits, though they incorporate many “greenwashing” elements to their mandate. From their site: “Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada aims to foster a culture of sustainability that supports the environmental and conservation goals of the organization and the greater public, while building a strong legacy of ecological stewardship.”  While they could potentially contribute money to a conservation organization like any corporation or any individual could (I’m not sure if they have), their actions clearly demonstrate that they detract from conservation efforts. They contribute to the destruction of coral reefs and ecosystems in their purchases of captured fish. Plus, there is no need for any breeding programs at aquariums, nor are any fish reintroduced to the wild. Aquariums simply do not help to prevent any species from becoming any less endangered or extinct.

Wild Endangered Sharks Captured for the Toronto Aquarium

Endangered sharks were taken from the ocean to be displayed at the Ripley Aquarium. Rare Sand Tiger Sharks (listed as endangered on the IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature] Red List) were removed off the coast of South Carolina for the sole purpose of being displayed in tanks at the Toronto Aquarium. Despite the fact that these sharks are protected in the United States, the aquarium received permission from the US government to hunt and capture them as they would be used for “educational purposes”. Predator loss is one of the top five threats to the oceans, according to Save Our Seas. More than 90% of the top predators have already disappeared from our waters, mostly due to overfishing. Predator removal has drastic effects on the entire ecosystem, through their regulation of prey populations and other cascading effects. The Sand Tiger Shark only produces two pups per litter and Ripley’s has removed some of the remaining Sand Tiger Sharks from their natural habitat, decreasing their numbers further. And for what purpose? Animal activist and photographer Jo-Anne McArthur writes, “Aquarium visitors spend a few moments looking at an animal in a given display. The animals spend a lifetime looking back at visitors, but can never leave.” These animals will never return to the wild. They will live out the rest of their shortened lives behind glass walls.

Touch Tanks: Stressful Situations

Touch tanks or touch pools are a part of many aquarium attractions, including the one in Toronto. In Toronto, visitors can touch crabs, stingrays and bamboo sharks in touch tanks. On top of the unnatural living experience in artificial tanks, the animals must now be subjected to humans touching them all day long. This can be extremely stressful to the animal. Furthermore, the animals can be exposed to all sorts of pathogens and foreign bacteria from humans. At another Canadian touch pool in Calgary, nearly 40 stingrays died from an unknown toxin in the water. Right Tourism recommends that you do not participate in touch tank programs, though I wouldn’t feel right contributing money to a company that promotes this practice.

Educational?

The main argument for aquariums is that they are educational, particularly to children. While I have not visited Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Barry Kent MacKay of Zoocheck and Born Free USA did. While there was educational information on plaques provided by the tanks at the aquarium, MacKay stated that he observed very few people actually reading them, not even simply to identify the name of the fish. Despite observing artificial coral in the tanks, there was no information provided about the importance of preserving the real coral of our oceans. Though one exhibit featured fake mangrove roots, there was a lack of detail in reference to the importance of mangroves in our natural environment. There were so many omitted details about the importance of our ocean and protecting its creatures that MacKay doesn’t see how this aquarium could possibly be perceived as an educational experience.

While aquariums may have the appearance of being an educational experience, they are purely for entertainment’s sake. Many animals have abnormal behaviors when caged up in an unnatural manner as they are unable to exhibit their typical social structures and demeanor.

There is about as much educational benefit to be gained in studying [animals] in captivity as there would be studying mankind by only observing prisoners held in solitary.” -Jacques Cousteau

Another problem with aquariums is that it actually teaches our children the wrong outlook and attitude towards animals. In an interview with Humber News, Ken Montville (PETA) explains, “The problem with aquariums is that we all learn that animals are for us to exploit, and this is not a lesson we should be teaching our children. We can achieve true ocean conservation by cleaning up our oceans and prohibiting the live capture of animals to bring to aquariums.”

An Expensive Experience

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada doesn’t exist for conservation purposes. It doesn’t exist to be an educational experience. It is a form of entertainment that uses animals to make money. Not only is the cost high when it comes to the lives of the animals and our environment, but it also hurts our wallets. The admission price for an adult is $30, a youth or senior is $20, and a child is $10. To participate in a two-hour stingray experience, it costs $150 for an adult and $140 for a child. Ouch. By the time you factor in parking and a meal, it’s quite an expensive day. And don’t forget the gift shop, which likely has very little to do with environmentalism, oceanography, or marine biology!

In terms of an experience, I would much rather observe animals in their natural habitat. Many families from Toronto travel to tropical destinations in the winter – why not bring along the snorkel gear and swim with the fish? It would be more educational to put on the Planet Earth DVD or another wildlife program so your children can learn about these fascinating creatures without harming any animals in the process. You can also find many whale-watching excursions all over the world, some not even too far from Toronto in Quebec, where you can observe these majestic beings in the wild. It will be an experience that will last for a lifetime.

Unfortunately, this aquarium experience promotes the attitude that the world is at our disposal and we can put it behind glass, cage it up, and destroy it all for our own amusement. Since children are our future, why would we want to pass along these perspectives to them?

If you’d like to participate in opposing Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto, be sure to join the Toronto Aquarium Resistance Alliance (TARA). There are regular protests outside of the aquarium to help increase awareness of its harmful actions and programs.

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86 Responses

  1. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}
    | Reply

    A new Aquarium opened up in Austin, Texas last year even though one of the business partners had just been given 2 years probation for illegally shipping protected sharks and rays. They also own an aquarium in Portland where a former veterinarian resigned over concerns for animal welfare, and another ex-employee leaked a marine animal “death log” to the local newspaper with details of more than 200 animals dying in a 3 month period. Ugh. You won’t be visiting Ripley’s, and I certainly won’t be visiting the aquarium near me.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…I Couldn’t Believe They Carried That on a MotorcycleMy Profile

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      That is crazy. How can one of the business partners who is under probation open a new aquarium?! That’s also quite sickening about all of those marine animals dying. I’m glad that it was released to the public so we can see what goes on behind closed doors. I’m glad that you won’t be visiting that aquarium, it sounds truly awful.
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

  2. Karyn @ Not Done Travelling
    | Reply

    I love you so much for writing this post! (OK I loved you already but now I love you more lol).

    Removing endangered species from an ecosystem “for educational purposes” is like killing a whale “for scientific purposes”. It’s purposeless and does more harm than good. Whilst reading this post I couldn’t help but think back to the way places like SeaWorld claim they’re educating people – but animals stuck in captivity cannot exhibit natural behaviours, so what kind of education is that? It’s no education. Jacques Cousteau was right.

    And I remember when that Sea Shepherd diver was almost murdered. Very, very scary.
    Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted…Why The Great Ocean Road Really Is GreatMy Profile

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      I’m glad you enjoy i! You’re totally right – it does more harm than good. Aquariums, SeaWorld..it’s all under the guise of education, but it’s really for profiting at the expense of animals. I hope that someday in the future we’ll look back on all of this as a society and realize how barbaric it really was…. (and I hope that “future” comes sooner than later!)
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

  3. Esther
    | Reply

    I totally get what you’re saying. I always feel rather hm when visiting zoos and aquaria. Did you know that a platypus will get so stressed from being held captive that it has no chance of surviving?The park I did love was Lone Pine near Brisbane, Australia. Here animals that were hit by cars (etc) are given shelter. If they can go back into the wild, they’ll make sure they do. If not, the animals get to stay.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      I didn’t know that about a platypus. That’s awful. Lone Pine sounds like a really nice place though. I’m all about places that care for injured animals for the chance of being reintroduced to the wild…and in some cases where they can’t be, they can live their lives in a peaceful location with the proper care. I’d like to visit it when I go to Australia at some point!
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

  4. We are with you, not cool, same for zoos. Having counted penguins in Antarctica and then seen how they live in aquarium pens for peoples amusement it is just plain wrong.
    Mark and Kate @vagrantsoftheworld recently posted…The Corn Islands. Nicaragua’s Caribbean SecretMy Profile

  5. Jackie
    | Reply

    This post was both eye opening and heart breaking. Some people truly do have a love for marine life but don’t associate their actions in going to an aquarium with being detrimental to the animals health. Ever since I read a few years ago how dolphins can commit suicide as a result of being depressed (they drown themselves) aquariums have made me scratch my head a bit. Thank you for this post

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      I feel like many people who do visit aquariums, zoos, etc. are the kind of people that really love animals! But they don’t realize how they are actually hurting the animals and supporting this kind of business. I hope that this article can change the mind of at least one person that was intending to go to an aquarium in the future. That’s really sad about dolphins committing suicide. They are such smart creatures that it doesn’t surprise me.
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

  6. Taylor
    | Reply

    I am wondering where you got all your information for this post… it seems like you took real facts and twisted them in a way that supports your incorrect ideas about aquariums. If you have never stepped foot into the Ripley’s Aquarium, or spoken to anyone that works there, then I am going to assume you don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes. There is a huge team of aquarists whose sole job is to care for the animals. They have extensive, up to date knowledge in the field and I can assure you they care much more about those fish than anybody. Animals of ALL species survive much longer under human care, it is a known fact. While I wholeheartedly agree that wildlife trafficking is a huge issue that should be dealt with, the Ripley’s Aquarium is not who you should be attacking. How about the poachers who participate in these “lucrative endeavours” to sell to the black market? Shouldn’t you be going after them? And what about the intense commercialization of wildlife tourism, which you mention as an alternative? Many companies have the same goal you mention this Aquarium has, which is to make money with little to do with the animals themselves. Humans are encroaching on ecosystems all over the world, and I’m sure the animals don’t want you disturbing them while you go snorkelling or whale watching or on a safari because that is just as unnatural to them. There are so many more issues in this world than an Aquarium which does in fact have the goal of educating the public about what they can do to protect and preserve these species and the ocean ecosystem in general.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Hi Taylor, thanks for stopping by to comment. The information from my post has links back to articles where I researched the info. I have visited aquariums in the past, and I have not been to Ripley’s as I don’t wish to contribute money towards their company. I am sure that they take really good care of the fish in captivity (never once did I say that they were letting fish die at the aquarium itself) – as good of care as you can possibly take of animals living in an unnatural, captive situation. Animals of all species do NOT survive much longer under human care. And even if they did, what kind of a life is it, living inside a tank with a limited amount of space? It isn’t natural for a shark to live inside a glass case. In terms of ecotourism, there are some companies who are not reputable, you are correct. I think that everyone should do their research before they determine which kind of tour they are going to take. In terms of snorkeling, on tours I have been on in the past, people are not permitted to touch or brush against coral reef, and people are generally always at a bit of a distance from fish (or the fish can swim away). Whale watching from afar is the way to go. It would be much better than having a whale inside a glass enclosure, being petted by tourists, or making it do tricks, right? I feel as though the public can be properly educated through amazing videography/interactive articles online/and even books better than an aquarium. The educational benefits at the aquarium are dubious at best – we all gawk at fish in an unnatural environment. Great. This particular aquarium does not protect or preserve species – they belong in the ocean, they are taking fish from the ocean and are not reintroducing any back to the ocean. A great start to preserving the ocean’s ecosystem is to leave it alone and stop taking fish from it. I’m sure you could agree with that.
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

      • Scott
        | Reply

        Lauren. First, I agree. Most zoos and aquariums (the ones that don’t exist to rescue animals and return them to the wild) are terrible. I think the issue here is not the facts, but that you have titled your article to a particular aquarium that (a) you have never visited and (b) you have no actual facts/research on. You should change the title. If you want to be a blogger, you should try your best to write with journalistic integrity.

        • Nora
          | Reply

          If I have never been into a sweat shop, does that mean I have no integrity if I say sweat shops are cruel and dangerous places that treat people in inhumane and toxic ways? Nah, it means research can be done without actually experiencing a place- that is how there are historians who are experts on Medieval culinary attitudes and language. Not all research needs to be primary research.
          Welcome to science.
          There are kinder ways you can ask someone to state their source than by calling out their journalistic integrity.

        • Lauren
          | Reply

          I don’t feel like the title is misleading at all as it’s named, why I would never visit … and I’m explaining why I wouldn’t. Thanks for the tips on how to be a blogger – I think I’m doing just fine.
          Lauren recently posted…Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour VeniceMy Profile

  7. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)
    | Reply

    Really interesting read and I certainly agree that the petting and touching does sound cruel. Since discovering snorkelling (in places that have always said not to touch coral and to respect the wildlife), I can’t imagine really visiting aquariums much now anyway as it’s so hard to emulate the beauty of seeing them in the wild and in a more natural setting.
    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) recently posted…A Weekend in Brussels – Two Travel Bloggers & Six Clues #ParkInnExpressMy Profile

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      I’d much rather be snorkeling, too. Touching the animals is definitely not natural and I’m sure they can’t possibly enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by and reading the article, I’m glad you like it! 🙂
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

  8. Franca
    | Reply

    I’m totally with you Lauren and I understand where you come from. In fact I don’t go to places like zoos, aquarium or any other place where animals are kept in captivity for the only reason of being a form of entertainment, that’s so wrong!
    Franca recently posted…8 Responsible Alternatives to the Tiger TempleMy Profile

  9. Hannah
    | Reply

    I touched sharks in the touch pool in Monaco museum of oceaonography. Now I feel like an awful person 🙁
    Hannah recently posted…Parasailing in Punta Cana and How to Get Your Own DealMy Profile

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Oh no, Hannah! Don’t feel bad! I’ve visited aquariums in the past because I didn’t give it any thought and I wanted to see interesting sea creatures. It is the kind of thing where we live and we learn, and it might make you think about future travel experiences…maybe you won’t touch the sharks in the future. But don’t feel bad because you touched a shark a while ago!
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

  10. Hayley Swinson
    | Reply

    You bring up a lot of really interesting things to think about in this post. Not just with aquariums, but with all kinds of tourism involving animals and our natural environments. It’s important to research before your trip and ensure you’re not contributing to a global problem. Thanks for sharing!
    Hayley Swinson recently posted…Art Town: Street Art in Reykjavik, IcelandMy Profile

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Thanks, Hayley! I completely agree. When visiting any spot, it’s best to do your research to make sure you aren’t contributing to anything that harms animals or the environment.
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

      • John Cena
        | Reply

        Hey Lauren thanks for your article.I now want to go to the aquarium more then ever and you come off as a self righteous , fake crusader of a self serving cause d-bag, who knows how to copy and paste click-bait people for clicks on your article, congrats.

        • Alex
          | Reply

          You’re a real curmudgeon!

        • EllenJM
          | Reply

          Your choice, of course. But i hope YOU will do your own independent research and decide for yourself what is the correct thing to do for all involved.

  11. Sally Munt
    | Reply

    This post is very informative. It breaks my heart and makes me so mad that lots of people still don’t know things like this are going on. Every time I see someone post a picture of themselves at a place like this or Tiger Kingdon my blood boils. Thank you for raising awareness.
    Sally Munt recently posted…Standed on an island – 10 days on Gili TrawanganMy Profile

    • Kathryn Sussman
      | Reply

      Hey Lauren,
      I just wanted to thank you for writing such a thought-provoking article about the aquarium. I am an animal activist and currently involved in trying to affect change in cetacean regulation in Canada, and even I hadn’t given enough thought to the impact of this type of aquarium on non marine mammals- on fish and ocean ecosystems in general. I had actually visited the aquarium recently with my daughter and step-daughter, and while it is selfishly delightful from the perspective of anyone who loves marine life, I think you are absolutely right in your assertions about the harm involved. I have written a few articles myself about the ethics of caging animals. Some are on my website if you want to check it out. I was wondering if you may be interested in collaborating in a book on this subject with me? I am a writer and have some ideas. Thanks again! Best, Kathryn

      • Lauren
        | Reply

        Hi Kathryn! Thanks for stopping by! And thank you for your work in Canada on behalf of all of us! I am not sure I am the right person to help write a book (as a person who loves animals and not any sort of scientific authority on the subject), but I’d love to discuss that with you! Please send me an email if you get the chance: justinpluslauren @ gmail.com – Thank you!
        Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Oh I know. The Tiger Kingdom blog posts make me mad too. Thankfully more and more people are writing thoughtful articles against that place. Dale and Franca at the blog Anglo Italian Follow Us just wrote a great article about places to visit instead of Tiger Kingdom that help animals and people in Chiang Mai.
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

  12. […] as part of #weekendwanderlust hosted by JustinplusLauren, #weeklypostcards hosted by Travel Notes and […]

  13. giselleandcody
    | Reply

    THANK YOU so much for taking the time and posting an article like this. It is so important for people to read this and realize how horrible aquarium’s are. These are prisons for fish. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says because the fact of the matter is I am sure they would rather be in the ocean swimming freely. Not trapped in a pool.

    I wonder if any human would choose to be locked up over walking around freely. Hopefully people will wake and stop contributing to this garbage.
    giselleandcody recently posted…Everything we need to know we learned from TravelMy Profile

  14. Rachel
    | Reply

    As a conservationist and ecologist, I couldn’t agree more with what you say in this post – which is also why I never visit zoos.
    Rachel recently posted…Traveller Tales: Flying The NestMy Profile

  15. Josh B
    | Reply

    Some of the info is misleading here. The aquarium industry is only a small portion of wildlife removal. Truly less than 1% of fish removed from the wild are for the aquarium industry. Why? Because as aquariasts, for years now, we have been working together to captively breed/propagate our livestock. Most freshwater fish now come from breeding farms, and a fair portion of saltwater fish are being bred in captivity as well. Hobbyists are also propagating our coral stock and fragmenting said pieces so as to share between each other and not need to removd from the environment. This has been going on for many years now.
    we have communities and forums that have breeding programs in place, that allow members to get together, share info, breed stock, sell and attain stock without drawing from the wild.
    In honesty, the aquarium industry is dwindling, because people aren’t as interested about getting into it, they’d rather buy a puppy or kitten that they can actually hold and cuddle. It’s estimated that in 10 years time, the aquarium hobby will be over minus a few of us dedicated people.
    The true culprit to fish removal from our oceans and rivers has been and still is the fishing industry for food.
    As to things like touch pools, they are a double edged sword. With proper care, they are great for the person and the animal. Stingrays in particular are very social, inquisitive creatures. Their slime coating protects them from pathogens and bacterias that we might have on us. A healthy stingray is a very hearty animal. I personally have kept freshwater stingrays in captivity, and they are an absolute joy. They are brilliant and social, and never once did they try and sting me. They’d rather run and only if pinned down are they absolutely prone to stinging. You can hand feed them, pet them, move them, etc. They are very docile and friendly. Sure, the odd one has a bad temperament or is skittish, just like humans.
    The reason there are issues with the touch pool is humans not making sure to clean before doing so. The reason the rays in calgary died is because someone didn’t wash up and let chemicals enter the pool, which is a closed system and could not dilute the chemicals like a natural river would with pure volume.
    Properly cleaning is a must.
    I could go on, but i just wanted to bring some information forwafd pertaining to your blog.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Hi there, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. It is interesting to read your perceptions from the opposite side of things, as someone who works in this industry. First off, when you say that some of my information is misleading…do you have any sources for your information? I would love to know the percentage of saltwater fish that Ripley’s sources from breeding farms vs the wild. I tried to see if that info was posted on their official website and it was not. I also feel that any animal has a better quality of life living in their own natural environment rather than a confined space. Obviously, we cannot ask the fish if it is happier or not, but we can see that fish live longer in the wild than they do in captivity. I also don’t think you can determine a stingray’s happiness based on whether or not they tried to sting you. Stingrays don’t really exist to socialize with humans…they have not been domesticated over thousands and thousands of years. They’re wild animals. I think they belong in the wild. Having random people touch them constantly for their entire lives…I can’t see any animal really enjoying that. And as much as I’d like to see the aquarium industry dwindle and be phased out in 10 years time, I can’t see that happening with the amount of money it’s still generating…anyway, thanks for the thorough omment that you left, it’s good to have some thoughtful conversations about this issue.
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

  16. Josh B
    | Reply

    Also, quickly, most aquariums don’t draw from the wild any more, but share species between aquariums/zoos, or from hobbyists and research grouos/facilities.

  17. DavidS
    | Reply

    Great article. However, there has been no activity on the Toronto Aquarium Resistance Alliance (TARA) Facebook page (to which you refer) for months.

  18. Connor
    | Reply

    Why do people waste time about writing things like this? With people wanting to learn about animals, we can’t just delve into the wild and touch a tiger to find out what it feels like, or acts like. These animals aren’t held in 4×4 boxes, they are aloud something usually greater than the room a million dollar house provides.

    Zoos and Aquariums are great places for people to learn, and it keeps the world going round’ with jobs, and scientific research booming daily.

    You should go spend your time researching something of value, not something you have never visited, articles are opinions.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by, read the article, and comment on it. It couldn’t have been that much of a waste of time if it’s generating so much conversation, even from you! Let’s be realistic here: no you can’t touch a tiger in the wild, nor should you. That doesn’t mean that we should cage it up for everyone to touch. It belongs in the wild, and we should let it be.

      Zoos and aquariums are not educational. Gawking at animals behind bars is not educational. The scientific research that is being done is best done observing creatures in their natural habitats. Just because something keeps the “world going round with jobs” doesn’t mean that it’s right. There are plenty of jobs out there that don’t involve harming animals and our environment.

      Thanks for the advice on how I spend my time, but I feel as though writing this article has been very worthwhile. This has actually been the most viewed/popular article that I’ve ever written! There seem to be plenty of people that agree with me or who might decide to spend their time/money elsewhere instead of visiting this aquarium. This is an opinion piece, backed up by researched facts. Plus, it’s my blog and I can write about what I want. I don’t apologize for that.

      And hey, if you want to give me a tour of Ripley’s, I’ll take you up on that and I’ll write a second article to let you know if seeing it in person changed my mind.
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

  19. Erin | No Ordinary Nomad
    | Reply

    Great food for thought, thanks for highlighting this important issue. The more that this information is put out there, hopefully it will encourage more sustainable ways for us to interact with our wonderful ocean life.
    Erin | No Ordinary Nomad recently posted…Everest Base Camp Trek Day 5 Part 2 – Tengboche to DingbocheMy Profile

  20. Brenda
    | Reply

    The ocean is a precious environment. It’s troubling to realize that aquariums are hurting the ocean as opposed to supporting them, especially those so-called “educational” programs. Thank you for bringing this to light for us and will give it more thought and research next time we think about visiting an aquarium.
    Brenda recently posted…New Year – Leave it All BehindMy Profile

  21. Katie
    | Reply

    But bringing your kids to a zoo is ok right…. It’s going to happen regardless if you decide to see them or not. I’m pretty sure everyone reading this has been to a zoo. So what’s the difference? All these animals are being trafficked in some form. So why not go look at the cool fish? It’s a great experience for children and even adults. Nothing in this world is ‘natural’ anymore. If these endangered species are threatened, I’d like to go see one before it’s no longer an option and they’re extinct. They’re not going to stop. Just like they’re not going to stop injecting chickens with hormones and steroids so they’re so fat they can’t walk. Or genetically modifying our fruit and vegetables. It’s just something we have to accept, you can try to fight it but these giant corporations and governments are too powerful and it creates way too much profit to stop. Also just because one company stops, it doesn’t mean the animals are now safe. It’s a world-wide issue. Also these fish are well fed, none of them will be running out of food or swimming in polluted, radioactive waters. The circle of life won’t be coming for them. They’re pretty safe once they get there if you think about how dangerous the ocean is. It could be worse, we could be eating these fish and not appreciating they’re beauty. It’s nice to see a live ‘healthy’ octopus instead of on someone’s plate.
    It’s a beautiful thing to see all the animals interacting with each other instead of on discovery where they show sharks attacking other fish or seals or whatever they decide. In the aquarium it’s like they all get along; a great lesson for kids. Teaching them that it’s only okay to eat other animals when hunger is in the picture.
    Its all about money in this world. It’s the sad truth.. So go see them. I’m not saying what they’re doing is ok. But it’s out of our control. It’s not like they’re going to bring these animals back to the ocean. So go educate your kids. There’s a valuable lesson within the aquarium. It’s not Ripley’s fault. Our human race is to blame.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      The fact that you think this way makes me really sad. I suppose that we should never fight against anything that we believe in and just accept it as the status quo. Perhaps women should never have been given the right to vote; perhaps we should have never fought against slavery. The fact that you are going to teach your children that even though you think something is wrong, but we should just go with it anyway … What kind of a lesson is that? Sometimes it is okay to go against the grain to bring change. Perhaps that’s idealistic, but I’d like to think that some people who read this article may not go to the aquarium now.
      You are not helpless in this world. If you don’t want to eat chickens injected with hormones, don’t eat it. If you don’t want to eat genetically modified foods, buy organic ones. Part of the problem in the world is people like you with your viewpoints … That’s how corporations can get away with doing whatever they want, because they know that people like you will not like it, but will never oppose it and by putting your money towards it, support it.
      And there are lots of programs that are educational and child-friendly that don’t just show animals eating one another…. Though that’s a fact of life and they will likely learn it sooner or later. And lastly, I don’t go to zoos for the same reason that I don’t go to aquariums.
      Lauren recently posted…Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in TorontoMy Profile

  22. itsme
    | Reply

    Get over it. I went twice and it was so fun, I loved it.

  23. Brandon
    | Reply

    Lauren I’ve read the article and all of the responses/replies and I will give you that you are entitled to your opinion, as is everyone that has commented. Unfortunately, I will also say that it is equally as misleading as I’m sure many of the zoo’s and aquariums are.

    Do aquariums source some of their stock from less than honourable locations, no doubt, do they also educate a younger generation that many not be able to fly half way around the world and snorkel with the real thing like you can, definitely. Arguably it is just as disruptive for us to be jumping in the water with them in mass quantity and disturbing their environment as it is to take them from the wild. What bothers me the most about this article is that you have clearly picked only the facts that work in line with your moral compass in order to impose that view on others, just like any bias news media platform. And just like them you have too many people who are too busy or lazy to research the big picture, eating out of the palm of your hand. This is a fully bias piece, nowhere have you looked at this from a different perspective. In one of your replies you say “Stingrays don’t really exist to socialize with humans…they have not been domesticated over thousands and thousands of years”, where does someone even start with that. First of all, nothing exists to socialize with humans except humans, secondly, are you saying it’s ok to keep a dog in captivity because they’ve gone through thousands of years of being domesticated? I should hope not, considering the process of domesticating an animal in the past has often involved some extremely shady practices. In another reply you say “Zoos and aquariums are not educational.”, despite your opinion and aside from any wrongdoing in terms of where the animals were sourced from, technically speaking, this is a completely false statement. And in yet another reply you say you would accept a personal tour of the aquarium! That negates the entire purpose of this “opinion piece, backed up by researched facts” entitled “Why I’ll Never Visit Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto”. I could go on cause there are lots of holes in this, but (mostly) for my sanity and your (questionable) credibility, I won’t.

    If the real purpose of all of this was to evoke a discussion/argument, congratulations mission accomplish, but as someone who is fully willing to back well researched facts I think this article falls quite short of doing anything but stirring the pot. The fact of the matter is that as long as there are humans and there are animals they will interact both positively and negatively on each others habitats. I’m not saying there should be a zoo/aquarium on every corner nor will I say they should be done away with completely, but there is a happy medium, we just need to find it. As it is impossible with a topic like this to be completely unbiased I will say, in future at least try to approach things from at slightly more well rounded perspective but, don’t stop fighting for the little guy!

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Hi Brandon, thanks for your reply. Let me clear up a few things: I will argue that a child could gain more educational knowledge from watching an excellent documentary like Planet Earth than they would from visiting an aquarium. While they wouldn’t be seeing live fish in person, at least these fish would be shown living in their natural environment and not in a tank. Second of all, with the domesticated vs. wild animal comment – I think it’s acceptable to have a cat as a pet and not a stingray. I don’t agree with trying to domesticate a stingray because you’re right – that would be cruel. Just as I don’t think it’s right to keep stingrays in tanks to let people pet them. I think that it’s great to adopt a cat from a shelter that would otherwise live on the street/reproduce and make more cats.

      The “taking the tour of the aquarium” comment that I made in reply to a reader’s comment was a bit tongue in cheek. I don’t have any interest in visiting the aquarium as it would make me feel pretty sad.

      The purpose of this article wasn’t to generate an argument – it was to bring light to an issue that I feel is important. I don’t think that the current system works and I’d love to find better ways that don’t harm the ocean and fish that still allow people to learn about the beautiful animals of our world. I want people to think about their impact on the planet/animals before they visit places involving animals as most people who visit aquariums are animal lovers.

      I think it should be our goal to leave as little of an environmental footprint as possible. With that said, letting a documentary crew film and photograph underwater creatures, or allowing people to snorkel without disrupting the coral are both viable options over depleting the oceans of their wildlife.
      Lauren recently posted…Top 5 Places to Ski in Ontario, CanadaMy Profile

  24. Heather Defran
    | Reply

    Why don’t you focus on something that really means a world impact …..like stopping th slaughter of women and children by Boca Haram, or all the displaced people world wide due to Islamic terror. I’m not so sure when you weigh the impact of a displaced fish and a dismembered child ther would be any room in your life for a fish……and there’s lots of learning to be done at an aquarium and I good with the cost…even to the fish.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      There are lots of really important issues in the world that need to be discussed. I don’t think that caring for the planet and the environment takes away from other issues. There’s room to feel passionately about helping both people and animals. With your reasoning, instead of spending money visiting the aquarium, you should donate that money to a worthy cause that cares for displaced people overseas. However, I feel as though we can fight for what is right when it comes to both animal rights and human rights issues.
      Lauren recently posted…Top 5 Places to Ski in Ontario, CanadaMy Profile

  25. Mark Lapasa
    | Reply

    Man, I am so stoked about my upcoming visit to Ripley’s! There was a sale back in December for 30% off the price of tickets so regardless of this article, I’m still going. Money talks, it’s already paid for. 71% of our planet is covered in oceans. The world’s publicly accessible aquariums combined showcase 0.00001% of that 71%. So as a future parent. I don’t necessary share the same concerns as you do. Not everyone can afford to fly out to somewhere nice and scuba dive to see any of these strange lifeforms.

    • Alex
      | Reply

      As a future parent, you should actually be focused on what sort of planet you will leave for your descendants. One that includes diverse species in clean, natural settings or fake, plastic coral for fish doomed to die earlier whilst in captivity? This is the reason I will not procreate, the Earth of the future is not going to be able to support the populations we are creating.

  26. acr
    | Reply

    Where were all you protesters when they took years to build the aquarium?!? Now that people are actually going, you think this is a good time to boycott it? It might have had some effect if you had the foresight to express your opinion when these decisions were actually being made.

    Someone above mentioned zoos are the same…No they’re not, because I think most zoos do have educational purposes, often the animals are bred in captivity and I do think zoos advance science.

    If many of these fish are in fact not bred in captivity and they are captured in the wild, the benevolent endeavors of these institutions should be promoted. Now that Ripley’s is built and there are long lines of kids waiting to see the animals, demonstrating outside the aquarium is now one of the most useless things you can do.

    If you really want to make a difference, try to change the culture. Try to actually change things rather than just complaining about things other people do. Maybe then someone who makes decisions will actually take you seriously.

    It’s true that these institutions should be much more educational and they they should reinvest earnings for sustainability endeavors to preserve the incredible wildlife that we all love to enjoy! Instead of being so negative, let’s make lemonade out of lemons and try to get some of these Ripley earnings going to a good cause!!!

  27. Imran
    | Reply

    im not saying it’s right but I think some of the people that visit aquariums do so because they can’t afford to go on Eco- vacations to see animals in their natural habitat.

  28. John
    | Reply

    Ripley’s Aquariums are owned by the Pattison Group, which also owns CanFisCo (the largest seafood processing company in Canada) as well as canned tuna brands like Gold Seal and Ocean.

  29. Maria
    | Reply

    I totally understand the basis of the blog posted. But many facts posted were unwarranted. For example, not all animals that are in Aquairum are pulled straight from the ocean. Many are transferred from different facilities. Now I completely agree on the ethics of keeping animals behind glass, but look at the current state of our ocean. Shark population are drastically declining due to shark finning, not due to aquariums removing sharks from their natural habitat. These are the issues that need to be highlighted not just one Aquairum opening in Toronto. The aquarium does in fact highlight shark finning and how sharks play a vital role in our marine ecosystem. Although they may not make the education as in depth as it can be all aquariums and zoos are to be regulated by the aza, which ensures they follow a set of standards. I was able to work at the zoo in the health centre recently, and although the public may not have access to this part of the zoo, they partake in many many educational programs, breeding and rehabilitation programs, and projects that are looking out for the best interest of the animals.
    I completely agree with the fact that animals should not be used as an entertainment purpose, but not all facilities have just the money in mind. They truly care for the animals in some cases. Places that encourage animals interaction for entertainment such as dolphin captivity and other cetaceans, is 100% unethical, and I believe is a bigger issue to highlight.
    I enjoyed the blog but felt that these were things that needed to be highlighted.

    • Alex
      | Reply

      All you highlighted was that you are acutely uncertain about your own opinions and have provided no proof to demonstrate what you’re saying. “For example, not all animals that are in Aquairum are pulled straight from the ocean. Many are transferred from different facilities” prove it to me!!!

    • Lauren
      Lauren
      | Reply

      Yes, transferred from different facilities…who originally pulled them from the ocean. Ugh I am disheartened to hear that they are breeding the animals there….poor creatures that will never know freedom.

      I have written an article about dolphins in captivity if you’d like to read it (you said I should write one as it’s a “bigger issue”…well, it’s been covered, too). Thanks! http://justinpluslauren.com/swimming-the-dolphins-the-dark-truth/
      Lauren recently posted…Where to Stay in Sorrento: Villa Elisa SorrentoMy Profile

  30. Lili
    | Reply

    I was searching for an article to send my husband on why not to visit an aquarium and found this. He asked me when I want to take our toddler to visit Ripleys and he didn’t understand why I was against It. I get too upset and emotional so I like to pass along reading for him instead to see my point. And ta da there is yours! We live in Mississauga too with two young boys. I’m a vegan and kids are vegetarians my husband however is not. He supports our decision but it’s a learning curve. I gave up meat at 9 years old and never looked back. I want to raise my boys to learn compassion and kindness first.
    Do you know of any animal sanctuaries? I’ve never been not sure your thoughts. I’m not about zoos or petting zoos.

    Thanks and il happy I found you!

    • Lauren
      Lauren
      | Reply

      Hi Lili,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It’s nice to know that you feel the same way. I think it’s awesome that you are raising your boys to know compassion and kindness!

      Now, if you want to make an awesome road trip, I highly suggest that you visit Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY. You can stay overnight there in a B&B and visit with the animals – or you can just go for the day and visit with the animals. The B&Bs book up quickly for the season, but you can always stay somewhere in town. I have a series of posts on Watkins Glen, there are awesome gorges and waterfalls around which can make for some great days hiking. In fact, I went there when I was a kid with my family on a trip 🙂 Here’s my article about Farm Sanctuary: http://justinpluslauren.com/animals-farm-sanctuary-in-watkins-glen/

      As for Ontario, there are a few places around here. You can visit the Donkey Sanctuary in Guelph, Cedar Row Sanctuary near Stratford allows visitors on work visits and they do an occasional open house, and Happily Ever Esther (Home of Esther the Wonder Pig) may allow visits in the future. There’s also a list here: http://veg.ca/animal-issues/animal-sanctuaries/

      Let me know if you end up visiting any animal sanctuaries!!! A far better way for children to interact with animals, ones that have been rescued from harm and live the rest of their lives happily and well cared for.
      Lauren recently posted…Where to Stay in Sorrento: Villa Elisa SorrentoMy Profile

  31. Mark
    | Reply

    Hi Lauren – would love some links to where you are sourcing your information from. I feel like a number of your observations are very subjective – the educational value for example – is going to be up to the person – I have two young boys and the wonder they got from seeing these animals live and up close can’t be reproduced. We have watched quite a few episodes of The Undersea World of Jaques Cousteau which they quite enjoy, but the aquarium experience was unique. This does not negate some of the other issues you raise – however I would still need more quotable evidence than is provided here to draw your conclusion.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for stopping by. The links are all located in the article above – you’ll see that some of the words are highlighted in a shade of blue – you can click on those and it will take you to the articles where I have sourced my information from.

      It’s difficult to measure how educational something is – you’re right, it will be up to the individual. My argument is that an aquarium can’t exactly be educational as the animals aren’t living as they would in their natural environment. It is also teaching young minds that it’s right to imprison animals, which I feel is wrong.

      While it isn’t always doable due to budget constraints, the next time you’re on holidays, you should consider going whale watching or snorkeling with your kids. Seeing a whale or a dolphin emerge from the ocean provides many more thrills than an animal swimming in a glass enclosure. There are whale watching trips in Vancouver, Boston, and even just north of Quebec City! We also did some whale and dolphin watching in Dominica in the Caribbean. Other ideas include snorkeling while on a tropical vacation – you can see the fish up close in their natural habitat and it’s an amazing experience. It also has the added bonus of exercise 🙂

      Hopefully you’re able to browse some of the links cited in the article! Thanks so much for your reply.
      Lauren recently posted…The Ultimate Colosseum Tour in RomeMy Profile

  32. Asa Sexton
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have always felt uneasy viewing creatures in captivity. It is just so selfish and anthropocentric. I have had a difficult time articulating my position to friends and family. Your article will help the cause.

    • Imran
      | Reply

      I can understand the opposition to zoos because of having animals in captivity but what about the preservation of endangered species that they do? Isn’t that a good thing? What do you tell people who can never afford to go see animals in their natural habitat?

  33. William
    | Reply

    I just found this article when researching whether I should visit the aquarium or not. While I understand the issues that you raise, many of the facts you present are misrepresented in this article.

    I have followed the links to many articles you cite and find issues with them. The first link to seashepherds.org mainly raises concerns with aquarium hobbyists, saying that mistakes with food, space, etc. lead to their deaths and I do not see any mention of professionally run aquariums.

    You suggest the second link is from the World Wildlife Federation; it is however from WildlifeExtra.com. So according to Widlife Extra according to World Wildlife Federation, suggests that many fish die before reaching aquariums. They do not suggest that you should stop visiting aquariums but suggest that action be taken to improve the sustainability of the trade. The article from Wildlife Extra ends off by saying:
    “The marine aquarium trade certainly has its merits. Corals, giant clams and a growing list of fish can now be cultured not just for profit – but to someday repopulate Earth’s denuded reefs. More importantly, the hobby cultivates a love and understanding of nature and its myriad processes.
    Replacing delicate marine fish and invertebrates with hardy – even aquacultured – alternatives will keep mortalities at an absolute minimum. Remember that for each fish that survives, 90 are flushed down the toilet.”
    You notably leave this out. It says quite clearly that the aquariums are not the issue but the issue lies with the way that they are harvested.

    You raise some valid issues with the ecological concerns which I agree with and won’t question further. You just blatantly dismiss Ripley’s website yet take every other website you visit as the truth. I visited the website https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada/education/zoological-practices/ and it clearly states that it has begun successfully breeding animals in captivity and is undergoing the extensive accreditation process into the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) as well as the CAZA (the Canadian extension).

    The Save Our Seas link is unfortunately not working anymore. The link by Jo-Anne is clearly biased as it links to a blog entitled “Aquariums are Aquaprisons” her evidence is from personal experience which is fine, and I understand why she would be against aquariums in theory. From what she has seen, many aquariums are not up to the AZA standards however the aquarium was not yet open so she could be surprised with it. She was upset that they were capturing wild sharks, however the aquarium acquired special authorization to do so (At least we know these sharks weren’t obtained illegally in the lucrative aquarium trade that kills so many innocent fish.)

    You have some valid points towards the touchtanks as the death of stingrays at the Calgary Zoo was extremely disheartening yet that was before the zoo gained accreditation to the AZA (acquired in 2013 https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada/education/zoological-practices/). You may suggest not supporting any company that promotes the touch experience and that is fine however the Right Tourism campaign does suggest skipping the touchtanks but recognizes that it can be done in a safe manner and tells patrons to ensure that it is overseen by experienced staff. The Ripley’s website does state that there are educators there to oversee, instruct and teach patrons about the marine animals. (https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada/galleries/shoreline-gallery/).
    I personally have visited Belize where I have held different marine wildlife in the wild, this did not seem to bother any of the animals as they willingly swam into the arms of our handlers before being passed off to us. This may be different with these animals at the aquarium, but I have seen it done in an appropriate manner and I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to Ripley’s until they are proven wrong.

    The educational question is of course a controversy and many articles are available in defense of its benefits and those questioning it.

    Lastly, you suggest either visiting them in the wild or watching the DVDs of planet earth. First, right above telling your readers to go on vacation and snorkel, you say it is expensive at $30/adult yet I find a family vacation to be quite expensive, much more expensive than $30/person. The other option of watching a DVD may not be able to capture the attention of children like seeing it in real life. So $30/adult is a small price to pay to be able to come up close to the live animals.

    It is completely plausible that Ripley’s should not be supported, however based on this article very little evidence has actually been presented to suggest it. I would like to give the aquarium the benefit of the doubt, maybe that is me just being optimistic, but until I am given proof that this place should not receive my support, I will go and visit.

  34. I am conflicted. I visited the aquarium and wrote about it.
    I used to love places like Sea World, but not since I’ve grown up. I do hate the theme song for Marine Land, the park at Niagara Falls: Everyone Loves Marineland.
    🙁
    I hate how some song and park is telling us what we love. After Blackfish, nobody could love how such big and amazing creatures are kept in tiny tanks.
    I think zoos and aquariums will likely be phased out over the coming years, but it is important not to go to any exremes. I wish I could do more to help make a difference for the oceans and everything in them.
    Kerry at The Insightful Wanderer recently posted…A History For TodayMy Profile

    • Imran
      | Reply

      I understand the opposition to zoos because of captivity but what about the preservation of endangered species that zoos help with- is that bf worth keeping them open?

  35. Tanya Allen iQa
    | Reply

    I really hope your vegan. You preach about all this animal stuff which has much truth to it. But u better be vegan otherwise your just a hypocrite

    • Lauren
      Lauren
      | Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Tanya. Both Justin and I are vegan and a big part of our blog is about finding vegan food from around the world. If you look at the top of the page, you’ll see the heading “vegan” and you can find all of our vegan articles there.
      Lauren recently posted…Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the ScenesMy Profile

  36. Joanc
    | Reply

    Well, I have to tell you something – I had my eyes opened recently while attending a conference in Toronto. I do not support zoos, etc for many of the same reasons others state in various articles. I was staying in a hotel very close to the aquarium and I read up on it…everywhere I read about it I read about how it was so great. It is also promoted as one of the top ten places to visit while in Toronto. So, I thought, here’s the thing. It is new. People know better so they will do better. It will be state of the art, the fish will be the focus of attention, large areas to swim in, all will be well. Wowzers. The aquarium shocked and saddened me. In my opinion it is a money grab and some of the fish suffer. I am not a fish expert but truly, anyone would see that some of the fish suffer. So sad. I was shocked that it opened only a few years ago and was actually allowed to open. I phoned the aquarium and the City tourism department to explain my concerns. I still have not gotten over the shock and sadness of seeing fish in very, very cramped conditions. Very sad.

  37. Jeff
    | Reply

    Hi there,

    I just read this article and I have to say, it’s probably one of the worst op-ed pieces I’ve ever read. Now I understand you’re not a journalist, so won’t fault your inability to build even a basic foundation of objectivity. Clearly you tried your best to convince your readers of your point of view however suggesting, however loosely, that Ripley’s is connected to the use of cyanide in reefs or to the attempted murder of a diver is definitely crossing the line. Like most shock-and-awe bloggers, you weave an interesting yet factually false and distorted tail. Again, I will give you a pass on all of that.

    What I find truly astounding is you claim to love aquatic life and yet your blog is focussed (in part) on travel. Forgive me, but the number one threat to coral biomes is bleaching, due largely to acidification of oceans, which is a direct effect of global warming. Air travel is the number one cause of unnecessary carbon emissions and a massive contributing factor to the environmental threat of rising greenhouse gases.

    Your argument that removing animals from the wild is destroying natural habitats and your suggestion that people interested in marine life should explore animals in their natural habitat totally rings of, “Let them eat cake.” Many cannot afford to travel and, if they could, the impact on the environment would be immense. Much, much higher than the damage caused by the removal of a few species. From that perspective alone bringing a few animals from the wild to Toronto, under the care of exceptionally qualified marine biologists and experts in marine husbandry is doing the world’s oceans a great favour. With annual attendance of Ripley’s floating around 2 million a year, if being able to view animals locally prevented even .01% of guests from flying to the Caribbean for the same pleasure, by my rough estimate, Ripley’s would be preventing around a half million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere annually. Speculation? Absolutely. But much more factually grounded than the article you penned.

    It seems like many activists, you like to talk. You like to be part of the moral right. Your blog states your next adventure will be in Iceland but unless the two of you are planning to paddle the North Atlantic in a canoe, combined, you will likely dump between 18 to 24 tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere for the pleasure of a few dozen photos and a few more banal blog posts.

    And for the record, if you plan on arguing your case for “green travel” I’d point out that offloading your flight’s carbon impact by funding green energy is simply ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’

    Perhaps you should follow your own advice? Stay home – subscribe to a digital copy of Nat Geo and do the rest of the world a favour by reducing your contribution to the destruction of our oceans in pursuit of your own vanity.

    Best.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      This blog is about travelling as eco-friendly as possible. I encourage everyone to do activities that cause as little impact to the environment as possible. I also advocate that people are as kind to animals as possible. I’m happy the tides are turning and people are starting to turn away from places that exploit animals for monetary gain, in favour of seeing them in their natural habitats where they belong. I learn new things every time I travel and I’m happy to contribute some positivity to the world, such as volunteering to help animals overseas. This article obviously struck a nerve with you that you had to insult me personally, so I pity you a bit.

      I am glad that this article has inspired so many to NOT go to the aquarium, so it’s definitely worthwhile that I shared my own reasons for not going with the world. And yes, I’m going to enjoy one incredible whale watching tour in Iceland – not just for the blog – but for my own sake! I’m happy to be out living my dreams! Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day.
      Lauren recently posted…7 Lessons Learned Road Tripping 10,000 Miles Across the USAMy Profile

  38. chris
    | Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    I love that you’re bring attention to this!
    I remember when this place first opened, my wife and I vowed never to visit. We now live in Melbourne, Australia and I work for Australia for Dolphins (AFD) http://www.afd.org.au. AFD is non-profit fighting to end the cruelty of keeping animals as intelligent as dolphins, captive. Although Ripley’s doesn’t have dolphins or large whales, it’s equally fucked up to keep any of those sharks and smaller animals in glass tanks. Friends have mentioned they have loud music and parties every weekend.
    I feel they think they can fly under the radar because they don’t have larger animals.
    I thought most people had common sense that captive animals shouldn’t be captive, but according to Ripley’s Facebook page and their 5 star reviews, people are not thinking about the animals, only about them selves.

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  40. Gayle
    | Reply

    I am visiting in Toronto this week. Ripley’s was recommended to me but my first thought was “animals in captivity”. I figured it would be as selfish as going to a zoo, so I thought I would google and came upon this article. Thanks for reinforcing what I already knew….that I shouldn’t be another “human” paying to see animals in captivity for my own entertainment. I would LOVE to see them all up close, but I don’t want to support this type of indifference, and most times cruelty, to a living creature. I also can’t afford to travel to see interesting animals…so guess what…I won’t SEE THEM!! Too bad, so sad. As the Rolling Stones put it….we can’t always get what we want. Thanks for enlightening people. 🙂

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