Blame the coronavirus pandemic!
If only you could say those words to the fussy penguins of the Hakone-en Aquarium in Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa.
Every part of the world is groaning due to the cost of living crisis wrought by Covid 19. Many people have lost their jobs, many businesses have closed down, prices of oil and petroleum products keep on rising . . . people can hardly breathe.
Even the most developed countries, like Japan, have been feeling the adverse effects of the pandemic.
Hakone-en Aquarium is a large, popular haven for more than 32,000 sea creatures belonging to 450 species. Maintaining the place and its freshwater and saltwater animals requires a really big budget, which was not a problem for the mountaintop aquarium prior to the pandemic.
But, with a crisis-after-crisis situation all over the globe, even Hakone-en has to adapt to the times. It must adjust its budgetary allowances for food and other expenditures.
One of the decisions that the management made was to switch the penguins’ meal to regular mackerel, known as ‘saba,’ after the prices of horse mackerel, ‘aji,’ rose up to 30%.
But the penguins showed displeasure upon seeing their new, budget-friendly fish. Many refused to eat, with some even turning away their beaks.
A number of otters also joined the boycott after realizing they were being served cheaper meals.
Aquarium manager Daiki Shimamoto assured the public that they won’t force the birds to eat something they don’t want to. “We would never force any animal to eat what they don’t want.”
And despite the challenging times, Shimamoto also said that they’re not raising the admission fees for visitors since they want as many people as possible to come to Hakone-en Aquarium.