Owner of Tanjong Pagar dental clinic says he planned to relocate sharks after 6 months
You may have heard about the dental clinic in Tanjong Pagar that had a front-facing tank displaying three blacktip reef sharks and a spotted moray eel:
Now, in response to our first story, the owner of Braces & Implant Dental Centre, who identified himself as Jimmy Gian, reached out to Mothership and shared his side of what’s been unfolding with respect to the flak that originally ensued online.
His clinic is registered as Orthodontic & Implant Dental Centre Pte. Ltd. with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, and is located at 163 Tras Street, #01-01.
Gian said several emails have been exchanged between him and conservationist Michael Aw over the past week.
However, he pointed out, none of the emails he sent explaining his perspective had been shown to the public — as a result, according to Gian, the “abuse (he and his staff say they have received online) got worse”.
So here’s a breakdown of the story, from the clinic’s side:
Gian’s original purpose of showcasing sharks in his clinic’s tank was to display the “beautiful side of sharks” and to “change fear perception” since to his mind, most Singaporeans are “very hardworking” and have little leisure time.
“Not everyone can afford scuba diving in clear waters or pay S$30 per pax to an oceanarium.”
Aw, the founder of Ocean Geographic magazine, who is also representing a following of fellow conservationists, said they felt compelled to request that the sharks be removed as they perceived the tank to be too small and unnatural as an enclosure for the sharks.
“(A) Proper aquarium for sharks need to be round. The only place suitable are those at SEA Aquarium as this species grows up to 2.5m in the wild.”
Aw added in emails shared with Mothership that his concerns are backed by ichthyologists (fish scientists), marine biologists and the former director and chief curator of SEA Aquarium.
Gian also said in responses to Aw, shown to Mothership, that he had hired a licensed company to supply the sharks. The same company also constructed the tank.
The company worked closely with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) as well as Frederic Chua, a vet at Allpets & Aqualife Vets, to determine the technical needs of the sharks — these included assessing the number of water processing units and the chillers needed in the process of customising the aquarium.
Gian also showed us the email above from Chua, who made his latest visit to examine the sharks on Tuesday, Jan. 9, and confirmed that the three female blacktip reef shark pups were healthy and without signs of distress.
“They were able to swim comfortably along the length of the tank, and turn without contacting the sides. They appeared to have adapted to the tank conditions.”
Here’s a short clip Gian shared with us of the sharks swimming in the tank:
Gian stressed as well that the photos Aw posted of the sharks having bruised snouts are legitimate, but that their snouts were not bruised from stress in a small tank.
via Michael Aw’s Facebook page
Instead, his claim is that passersby were knocking on the glass to get the sharks’ attention, and using flash photography on them.
These actions, he adds, startled the sharks, leading to them knocking into the glass and injuring their snouts.
Gian said his staff then placed the sign below next to the display, with Chua (the vet) monitoring their progress.
Chua also said the injuries caused by trauma are healing with no further skin lesions observed on their bodies, in a separate email also seen by Mothership.
Additionally, Gian said the sharks were never intended to stay in the display tank for longer than its size allowed them.
The original plan, he emphasised to Mothership, was always to relocate the sharks to a bigger aquarium when they become larger, in an estimated six to eight months’ time.
Emails courtesy of Jimmy Gian
Chua did highlight, however, in the second part of his Jan. 10 email (screenshot above) that as the sharks now measure at about 40-45cm in length each, the timeline of them outgrowing the tank has now become far shorter, and at the rate they’re growing, they will likely have difficulties turning in the tank within the coming month or two.
In view of this, Gian said he has since decided to proceed with preparing for relocation — according to Chua, he is still in the process of sourcing for a suitable place to move the sharks to.
The clinic will not be releasing the sharks into the open sea as it is , but Gian says they are waiting for approval from the AVA to move the sharks out of the tank.
In one of the emails exchanged between Gian and Aw, Aw did offer to transfer the sharks to an “open sea fish farm facility in the North East of Singapore”, saying the “owner has graciously offered to house and feed the sharks.”
Once the sharks are removed, Gian tells Mothership “another marine theme will be created” for the tank that will remain at the clinic.
But of course, after this episode, he admits that having sharks in the aquarium may no longer be an option.
“(We are) now considering crabs — long-legged spider crabs provided we can chill the water to a low sustainable temperature in our hot weather and if our tank can fit them. We will relocate them once they grow bigger and longer.”
Speaking to Mothership, Aw said ornamental reef fish such as butterfly, clownfish, damselfish, mandarin fish and anemones are “best suited” for his tank.
Top photo via Michael Aw’s Facebook post……
Singapore Ocean Animals Controversy
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