On 16th December 2022, AquaDom, a giant aquarium in the lobby of the hotel Radisson Blu in Berlin, Germany, where more than 100 species of tropical fish were kept captive, burst into pieces killing all the 1,500 fishes and flooding the entire area. The 15.85m high tank, constructed in 2003 for €12.8m, was the largest free-standing cylindrical aquarium in the world. The aquarium was in the same building complex as the Berlin SeaLife aquarium, where many more fishes are also kept captive for life.

The Mayor of Berlin Franziska Giffey went to the hotel to see the damage and described the tank burst as being like a tsunami. She expressed relief it had happened so early in the morning (5:50), and she tweeted, “despite the immense destruction with around a million litres of water leaking out, it was a blessing in disguise. No people were seriously injured. Fire brigade, police and THW work very closely together. I thank all the forces.”  She did not made any comment about all the lives lost.

Sandra Weeser, a member of the German federal parliament who had been staying at the hotel, said that fishes who may have been saved had frozen to death due to the cold temperatures, and she  recalled seeing a “large parrotfish lying on the ground, frozen.” That night the temperature in Belin dropped as low as -6 C, which may have caused a crack in the tank. In any event, those fishes should never have been kept captive in such a tank and should never have been regarded as pieces of furniture to decorate the hotel’s hall. The way their sad demise has been ignored by most press articles reporting on the incident, more preoccupied with the damage to the hotel and nearby shops, shows how badly these animals are treated by humans, and how dispensable their lives are in the minds of those exploiting them. We just hope that after they remove all the bodies and debris the hotel does not attempt to build another aquatic jail. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.