Penguins & otters in Japan aquarium unimpressed by cheaper fish, diet change due to inflation

No one is having a good time.

Zi Shan Kow | July 07, 2022, 06:48 PM

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An aquarium in Japan has had to switch to feeding some of its sea animals cheaper fish in an effort to cut costs amidst inflation, and the animals are having none of it.

Animals refuse to eat cheap fish

Hakone-en Aquarium in central Japan's Kanagawa has been feeding their penguins and otters their new diet with limited success.

A zookeeper was filmed surrounded by a group of unenthusiastic penguins during mealtime.

Despite the bucket of fish in front of her, the penguins are motionless, and none of them meet her eye.

She holds one out to the mouth of a King penguin, but the petulant animal entertains the thought of eating it only for a split second before shutting its beak and dodging the fish.

Not once, but twice.

Video by All-Nippon News Network.

The zookeeper approaches another King penguin and brings a fish to its mouth.

The penguin twists its neck to look away, practically scoffing at the fish.

She tries offering it a couple more times before the penguin politely but awkwardly shuffles away.

Video by All-Nippon News Network.

During feeding time, the aquarium's otters eagerly approach a staff member hand feeding them carefully-diced pieces of fish.

One bites into it, then spits it back out once it figures out what it is.

The rest unanimously forsake the meal.

Video by All-Nippon News Network.

Driven by inflation

The aquarium is changing its feed from the animals' favourite Japanese horse mackerel (aji) to mackerel (saba).

This is because horse mackerel prices rose by about 20 to 30 per cent from last year, partly due to low catches.

Japan has seen inflation spread to the biggest share of items since 2001, reported Bloomberg last week.

"[The penguins] take it into their mouths at first, but then they decide they don't like it and drop it," aquarium head Hiroki Shimamoto told the AFP.

Video by All-Nippon News Network.

The aquarium is still purchasing some horse mackerel to feed the animals, but has no plans to revert entirely until prices fall, he said.

According to CNN, the otters and penguins are more willing to eat the cheaper mackerel when mixed with horse mackerel.

The aquarium is also employing other cost-cutting measures, such as reducing the number of circulation pumps from two to one, which has almost halved its electricity bill.

"We would never force any animal to eat what they don't want," said Shimamoto, adding that the aquarium has no plans to raise its admission price.

Watch the zookeepers' futile attempts at feeding the picky animals here:

Top images via All-Nippon News Network.