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New Virtual Reality Aquarium Exhibit Spares Animal Lives

Largest aquarium in London is forgoing the use of animals in favor of a cruelty-free, immersive, augmented-reality experience.

The Sea Life London Aquarium is taking a step toward reducing animal suffering with the introduction of a new exhibit that uses virtual reality in lieu of live, imprisoned animals. The aquarium—which hosts one million visitors annually and is the largest in London—is partnering with BBC Earth for the Frozen Planet: Face to Face exhibit that allows visitors to go “above and beneath the ice through spectacular polar landscapes in an interactive walk-through experience … encountering a polar bear and her cubs and killer whales, as the incredibly icy wilderness comes to life using breathtaking augmented reality.” The attraction also features cutting-edge scent and sound effects that will have visitors experience “chilly air prickling against your skin,” a deadly brine icicle descending to the sea floor, and a dazzling display of the Northern Lights. While the aquarium is making no move to end its live animal captivity, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) applauded the effort, saying it “demonstrates that aquaria no longer need to imprison fish or other aquatic animals for human entertainment.” PETA is awarding Sea Life with a “Proggy Award” in recognition of its progressive move and for its potential to change how animals exhibits operate around the world.

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