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The cruel shark show is on the move

on May 21, 2015

The Zive Zraloky live shark show has now left Piestany and will be in Topol’cany from 21 to 24 May and in Partizanske from 25 to 27 May. Clearly the sharks involved in the show are not going to get a rest between their performances.

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An activist colleague has taken the clever step of asking the veterinary authorities in Topolc’any to visit the show and investigate what is going on, stating that a marine biologist has advised that if the sharks are left to swim in endless circles this will cause them tremendous stress. Under Act 39, paragraph 22 of the Protection of Animals Act these conditions are insufficient. Hopefully this will result in some action, although as apparently the mayor of Topolc’any is a big supporter of hunting and fishing we are not confident that action will be taken.

The second piece of news is that the story has been picked up by the media and Dennik N has published an article about the show. You can read the article in Slovak here and there is a translation in English below:

“Sharks ride-through Slovakia in the truck. It’s torture, says marine biologist

An aquarium with four live sharks could in recent years be seen by children in many Slovak cities. They rejected them in Hlohovec.

DUŠAN Mikušovič
19 May 2015 15:22

Fabrice Lesieur is a former French stuntman living in Levice, who was also interested in biology. In the Gulf of Mexico he rescued four sharks before the oil spill that occurred in the sea after the explosion of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon in 2010.

Comprising one representative of each species – bearded shark, Blackfin shark, coral shark and leopard shark, they were moved to quarantine in the Netherlands and later they came to Slovakia.

Now the sharks are kept in a mobile aquarium with a volume of 15-one thousand liters travelling through Slovakia and exhibited as an attraction in the town squares of Slovak towns. For a small entrance fee for children and adults everyone can see and take pictures. Lesieur says it does not make for earnings. In this way, apparently he wants to draw attention to the protection of nature and the world’s seas.

Hlohovec did not allow the attraction.
Lesieur recently announced that the exhibition would come to Hlohovec. But he we asked for authorization to occupy a public space in the town for the attractions, this was denied. The Mayor of Hlohovec Miroslav Kollár (independent) N told the newspaper that he dealt with the application and decided that this type of attraction can not be authorized. “We do not fundamentally address the issue, we just decided that on this occasion, also in relation to some earning in animals, we are not interested.”

The live Live sharks were also exhibited last weekend in Bratislava Ružinov.

Lesieur was surprised by the reaction of city, as in other cities the exhibition of live sharks does not usually cause aproblem. As the tour continues, the sharks will be exhibited in Piestany and Topoľčay.

The Frenchman admits that from time to time environmentalists criticize him. “But these are rather pseudo-ecologists who are not familiar with the situation,” he says. Lesieur says his sharks receive maximum attention. In the aquarium they have simulated ocean currents, to create a true environment of seawater again not commonly used, but re-created with special salt.

Lesieur reiterates that he does not travel with the sharks to get rich – he claims that he had to sell his house and move into a small apartment. He claims as evidence that the shark in his aquarium are treated well that, while in other aquariums these marine animals often die after a few months, his have lived for several years.

Biology: sharks suffer

Slovak marine biologist and documentary filmmaker John Husar disagrees with Lesieur. “Sharks in the mobile aquarium are suffering,” he says. “Two of these species, blackfin shark and leopard shark , still need to swim in order to breathe. If you are swimming in small circles, I find it causes tremendous anxiety. For all four species the size of the aquarium conditions are unacceptable and can be considered as abuse. ”

Sharks are different from aquarium fish according to Husár in that they have a long-term memory, and thus can recognize that they are indoors. In their natural environment they are accustomed to covering large distances. “There are subjects who were monitored by satellite transmitters and circumnavigators worldwide. They tagged them in Durban, South Africa and the same signal was later captured in Australia and Florida. ”

An transport in the truck causes even greater stress, according to the biologist. “Sharks perceive electrical signals, sound and vibrations of water, which in this case causes immense extent, other heavy interventions in life,” said Husár. “If this man really was interested in sharks, especially for their protection, I can imagine other possibilities of how to do it. His choice comes to me the most disturbing that could be made. “”

Big thanks to Jan Husar for doing this interview and speaking up for the sharks, and to Dennik N for publishing the story.

Incidentally, I forwarded photos of the sharks (which were published on the Zive Zraloky facebook page) to a contact who has confirmed that the species involved are actually a Blacktipped shark, a Leopard Shark, a Whitetipped Shark and a Nurse Shark, which differs from the identification provided by the owner. The contact also stated that:

It’s very difficult to breed sharks in captivity, the likely source of the sharks is through the aquarium trade. The aquarium trade is rife throughout Indonesia – so I would assume would also be done throughout parts of Mexico. I would say rescuing these sharks from an oil spill is unlikely, but could be possible… you would need much more information surrounding the rescue to ascertain truth. The aquarium trade begins with local fisherman targeting sharks for catch, usually the fisherman are paid very minimal amounts for their catch by a middleman. The middleman then increases the price substantially and on-sells to buyers around the world. The costs associated with relocating the animals can be quite expensive, as they require lots of oxygen in their tanks to be transported, they require sealed tanks for transportation, the black tips require a rather large tank for long periods of transportation because they need to continuously swim to remain oxygenated/survive etc. Thats without the costs of the airline carrier or cargo ship transporting them. It needs to be timed precisely, otherwise the fatality of the animal is hugely increased with long periods of travel etc, It’s a very delicate operation and one which the aquarium trade has down pat.

So it looks like the claims by Fabrice Lesieur that he “rescued” the sharks from an oil spill may well be untrue. We will continue to follow the travels of this cruel show, and will do our best to ensure that the authorities investigate, intervene and ban this exploitative exhibition, for which profit is the only motive.

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