Official AoP statement re: Shark/Ray Killings

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Posted by ChrisM on November 12, 2004 at 10:54:15:

Below is a statement from the AoP re: the recent shark/ray killing. On an unofficial note, I have it on good authority (this is paraphrased from Nitrogen addled memory after a deep night beach dive with a hurtt ankle, all mistakes and misstatements are solelyl mine) that the night the punks were caught, the head (I believe) of security decided to stay. He heard someone coming over the fence, grabbed one of the punks. Three got way, one immediately nabbed by police. The other two idiots come back some time later, sauntering over as if to see what was up.

They also had a car (they were 13-14)

The official word:

"The Aquarium of the Pacific is saddened to report that sometime Sunday night or Monday morning someone broke into the Aquarium's Shark Lagoon exhibit and injured or killed several animals. We lost one of our nurse sharks and one cownose ray, and a bamboo shark that was injured passed away Monday night. Other animals were moved or injured but will survive.

Monday night at approximately 9:00 p.m. trespassers were found on the Aquarium grounds. The Aquarium contacted the Long Beach Police department which made four arrests. The Aquarium is extremely saddened by this terrible act of animal cruelty. These animals lived in our interactive touchpools and personally touched the lives of millions of people who have visited the Aquarium. They were gentle animals that served as ambassadors inspiring wonder and respect for the ocean and its inhabitants. We are at a loss as to why anyone would commit such a cruel act on these animals."

Does the Aquarium have proper security?
The Aquarium has 24 security personnel that conduct regular rounds of the entire facility throughout the night. It also has 24 hour life support personnel who make regular rounds to check the exhibits throughout the night. The Aquarium is also equipped with security cameras that are monitored 24 hours a day by security. In its over six years of operation, the Aquarium security protocols have proven effective in preventing a break in at our facility as there has never been an incident until Sunday night. Based on these recent events, our operations staff is carefully looking at ways to increase our security to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again. Until the adjustments have been made, a security guard will be posted in the area all night, every night.

Didn't the security cameras get images of the trespassers?
There is a camera out in Shark Lagoon, but in order to simulate natural lighting for the health of the animals, most of the lights go out after a certain hour, so it can be difficult for cameras to pick up detail. The tapes were being analyzed and reviewed. Because increased lighting would affect the animals, the Aquarium security team is currently working with an outside security company to look at other effective alternatives to increase security in Shark Lagoon.

What specifically happened to the animals?
The nurse shark was pulled out of the small touchpool and dragged outside the Aquarium grounds and left to die behind bushes in the Pierpoint Landing area. The cownose ray was pulled out of the larger touchpool, jabbed with what appears to be a PVC pole and left near the touchpool. The shark that passed away last night was thrown on top of the exit area of the Lorikeet Forest aviary. Three other sharks were removed from the touchpools and thrown into the large exhibit. These sharks were unharmed. A zebra shark in the large touchpool also appeared to be jabbed with a PVC pole and has only minor injuries. Two zebra shark egg cases that were in a holding basket in the exhibit were damaged as well.

What is the value of the animals?
Our biggest concern is the well-being of the animals, but if we had to put a value on the animals and egg cases that were lost it would total about $5000.

When did the Aquarium discover the animals?
The discoveries were made over the course of the evening and morning.

What did the Aquarium do when they made the discoveries?
When the small sharks were found by the divers in the large exhibit, the staff contacted the Long Beach Police Department, which responded with a full investigation.

What can I do to help?
Expressing your support as you have already done will help our staff get through this difficult time. For those that would like to give a donation, we are suggesting that they adopt a shark. This can be done on our website or by calling our guest services center.

Response to any questions about those arrested and the exact details leading to their
We must refer those to the Long Beach Police Department.

What does the Aquarium think about the fact that the people who did this are minors?
We are saddened by this entire event, but the fact that they are children is even more saddening. We have had millions of children come through the Aquarium who have shown respect and care for these animals. We can only hope that we can reach all children to respect our ocean and inhabitants.
Jacky Lee
Aquarium of the Pacific
Education, Volunteer Coordinator
[phone number deleted]

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