The Oceanarium at Bournemouth is appealing to fish and reptile owners to do their research before buying an exotic pet.
The seafront attraction takes weekly calls from members of the public who are looking to re-home their exotic pets, and while staff would like to say yes to everyone, they are simply not able to accommodate all the unwanted and oversized fish and reptiles.
Over the years the Oceanarium has given a good home to a Black tip reef shark, Bearded dragons, a 3' Green iguana, numerous catfish and Pacu, various species of terrapin and illegally imported Hingeback tortoises (brought to the Oceanarium after being confiscated at Heathrow airport), as well as other tropical fish which have outgrown their home aquariums.
The Oceanarium has its own 'Tankbuster' display in its Amazon area which is now stocked to full capacity with Red tailed catfish and Pacu and can take no more fish.
Sarah Barker, Aquatic Supervisor at the Oceanarium said: "It is essential that people understand the species they want to buy as this will help to determine how big the pet will grow, what specific diet it needs and will ensure the pet is provided with everything it needs to live a happy and healthy life."
Creature donations from the public is not a problem only the Oceanarium faces — it is a growing national issue which sparked the NAW (National Aquarium Workshop) and the BIAZA Aquarium Working Group to create the Big Fish Campaign.
The campaign aims to highlight the problem public aquaria face of having to re-home large unwanted tropical fish.
Oceanarium curator Oliver Buttling comments: "At the Oceanarium we are passionate about the welfare of all creatures in residence here and although we hate to turn away creatures in need we find ourselves in a dilemma.
"We need to consider our current creatures first and it is very difficult to introduce new ones as this could upset the careful balance we have created. In addition newcomers could carry disease or infections. We have a duty to focus on species for conservation purposes as well as those which are unique and interesting to visitors.
"We therefore urge people to be informed before buying any exotic pets and to be responsible with the care of them."
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