In July, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals complained about a fishing program for children held at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. The program is sponsored by Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection.
A state website describes the Connecticut Aquatic Resources & Education program thusly,
CARE classes introduce you to the wonders of water, fish and fishing. The CARE program has taught over 66,000 citizens about water, fish and fishing since 1986. Our Certified Instructors will pass along the knowledge they have learned through years of angling. Videos, demonstrations and activities will teach and entertain youths and adults alike. The program is comprised of free classes and outdoor workshops which foster resource stewardship, promote an understanding of aquatic systems and fishery management decisions and encourage both an understanding and utilization of aquatic resources.
This brought a complaint from PETA’s Karin Robertson, who told The Connecticut Post,
It is very inappropriate for a zoo to run a program for children teaching them how to fish. A zoo’s mission is to teach kids how to respect animals. Fish are amazing animals Â— to teach fishing is to teach cruelty to animals. . . .When fish are caught by hooks, they are impaled and ripped out of the water. Imagine hooking a dog or cat through the mouth with a large hook and dragging them.
According to The Connecticut Post, Robertson said the hundreds of scientific studies show that fish are intelligent and learn from other fish. Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection biologist George Babey took issue with that claim, telling The Connecticut Post,
The vast majority of peer-reviewed research reveals that fish are quite primitive in the development of their nervous system. Their brain even lacks entire sections found in higher-order animals that lead to a determination of pain.
Babey also noted that fisherman contribute large amounts of money, in many ways, to helping preserve the fish habitats.
Fishing program at zoo criticized. Joan Stableford, The Connecticut Post, August 1, 2005.
Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education. Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, October 25, 2002.