Japan amusement park on thin ice after freezing 5,000 fish for fun

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The Editor's Itinerary

The global tourism industry is constantly innovating new ways to interact with marine wildlife, whether it's in the form of underwater villas in Dubai or an artificial reef made out of an Airbus in Turkey—but an amusement park in Japan may have just taken things a little too far. Space World, located in the city of Kitakyushu on the southwestern island of Kyushu, posted an apology on its website yesterday after it received widespread criticism for a new skating rink that featured thousands of dead fish frozen under the ice.

The bizarre "Aquarium on Ice" opened two weeks ago, its organizers calling it an "unprecedented attraction," according to the New York Times. Unprecedented, indeed. With around 5,000 specimens frozen just below the ice, skaters could view some 25 different species of marine line while gliding across the rink. However, the gimmick didn't quite pay off in the way the organizers hoped. Visitors took to social media expressing their outrage at what they saw as a cruel and morbid display, with one Facebook commenter writing, "Playing on the dead fish in the ice is nothing but insanity. Isn’t it a desecration of lives?”

A member of Space World's team says that the fish and shellfish featured under the ice were already dead when they were purchased from a market, and went on to publicly regret the decision. "We seriously take to heart a lot of various opinions, such as ‘you shouldn’t use these creatures in entertainments or events,’ or ‘poor fish,’ ” the apology on Space World's website reads. “We deeply apologize to all who had unpleasant feelings about the ice aquarium.”

NHK, the Japanese public broadcast station, reports that the park is now moving to melt the ice and remove the dead sea creatures before re-opening the rink. Perhaps going a little farther than necessary is just Space World's thing: While the dead fish are likely to be re-purposed as fertilizer, the park will be holding a memorial service for them first. While details on the memorial event have not been released, Space World manager Toshimi Takeda told CNN that it will be an "appropriate religious service."

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