Friends of Animals Support New London Coalition’s Intervention to Stop Proposed London Aquarium
Darien, Connecticut and Preston, England — Joining activists in Britain, Friends of Animals will urge London’s Mayor, The Zoological Society of London, and U.S.-based developers, to halt plans for their plans for the proposed Silvertown Quays Aquarium. Since 1957, Friends of Animals (FoA) has been on the forefront of the movement to end capture and display of free—living animals. FoA spokesperson Lee Hall stated: “Countless Friends of Animals throughout North America visit Britain each year. But this year, we shall be making a point to communicate to the Mayor that London should become a leader in making scientific showbusiness a thing of the past and not the future.”
The proposed Silvertown Quays Aquarium would be built on the north bank of the Thames, “with its own Docklands Light Railway station and good communication links by road, rail and air.” Its building is to form part of a public plaza “reached via a combination of paths and bridges.”  London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone has announced that “a world class aquarium here in London is something I have long supported and really want to see take shape. As someone who has always been fascinated by aquatic life, I am genuinely excited at the idea of the people of London — and far beyond — having access to such an extraordinary window on the marine and freshwater world.”  Michael Dixon, Director General of The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which is a partner in the enterprise, has boasted that “the new aquarium will provide a magnificent showcase for ZSL’s worldwide activities in aquatic conservation.” But Craig Redmond of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society responds: “The global aquarium trade is a conservation and animal protection nightmare. Millions of animals are snatched from the wild, many dying before even reaching aquariums. Collecting the animals often results in damage to the fragile marine ecosystem. This is environmental destruction, not conservation.” The idea of jobs and tourist spending is not lost on Dr. Dixon, who states: Silvertown Quays will become a major new visitor attraction in its own right and the aquarium will be a focal point for day visitors. In addition, we intend to build strong links between the aquarium and local residents, not just by creating new jobs, but also by making the aquarium an integral part of local community life.  The lead developer is KUD International, with offices in New York and Santa Monica. KUD will pay for the $200-million aquatic display from the profit it makes from developing the surrounding housing. The London Development Agency has deeded the land to KUD. By mid- 2006, KUD plans to finish the first phase of the project, including the marine display and 150,000 square-foot mall.  Increasingly, marine animals’ true habitats are being ruined at unprecedented rates as ZSL raises funds to make a point that such animals may be properly considered a profitable draw for shoppers, local residents, children, and international tourists. “In 2004 the idea of confining aquatic animals for human amusement and economic development is wholly inappropriate,” said Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals. “We call on the enlightened international community to support the efforts the new Coalition Against Silvertown Aquarium to stop this construction in London before it starts.” The new coalition is led by animal advocacy, environmental and political groups including the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, Animal Aid, the Marine Connection, London Animal Action, the Green Party in Britain, and U.S.-based Friends of Animals. Captive Animals’ Protection Society Web page: http://www.captiveanimals.org/aquarium/london.htm
- The Zoological Society of London, http://www.zsl.org/conservation/cp_0000000941.html
- Roger Vincent, “London Chooses Santa Monica Firm; KUD International will develop Silvertown Quays, a $1.2-billion housing, retail and aquarium project” The Los Angeles Times (30 Oct. 2002).