Japanese ice skating rink closes after backlash to fish frozen in the ice

The Space World theme park sourced about 5,000 fish from local markets, freezing them in the rink so visitors could skate "across the sea" -- but they were disgusted by the attraction.
By Stephen Feller  |  Nov. 28, 2016 at 3:33 AM
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KITAKYUSHU, Japan, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Designers at a theme park in Japan thought visitors would revel at ice skating "across the sea" by freezing real fish and pictures of larger sea creatures under the ice but the attraction was widely regarded as having an "appalling lack of morality" and being "disrespectful of life."

The Space World theme park in Kitakyushu closed its "Aquarium of Ice" skating rink on Sunday after visitors and people online called the fish-carcass-filled attraction cruel and disgusting.

"We were shocked to hear the reaction as the ice skate rink was very popular since it opened two weeks ago, we had an unprecedented number of visitors," Toshimi Takeda, manager at Space World, told CNN. "[But] we had endless opinions about the project, we were shocked... We are sorry for the project and decided to close the rink on that night."

Designers added about 5,000 fish they bought, already dead, from local fish markets, embedding them in the rink's ice: In one area, dozens of red fish are half-buried and open-mouthed in ice and, in another, a huge school of hundreds of black fish are swimming in a circle, with pictures of larger fish such as rays and whale sharks placed beneath the ice elsewhere.

Park visitors were not thrilled being surrounded by dead, frozen fish, and commenters online had a field day ripping Space World designers for their lack of respect for life.

"We deeply apologize to people who felt uncomfortable about the Ice Aquarium event. As a result, we have stopped the event from today," the theme park said in a statement. "Misunderstandings spread on the internet that the fish were frozen while they were still alive, but that was not the case. We should have explained more."

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