“Flushing Nemo” & the soaring threat of “101 Snowy Owls”
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2003:
OAKLAND, California– “Sadly, audiences are missing some of
the most important messages in Finding Nemo,” says Action for
Animals founder Eric Mills, suggesting that activists should leaflet
theatres to help ensure that what the Disney film actually says is
“This popular animated film has a strong vegetarian theme,”
Mills points out, “and one of the characters says that ‘Fish don’t
belong in boxes.’ Nonetheless, there has been a tremendous increase
in the demand for clown fish by hobby aquarists.”
“Everyone who comes in says they want Nemo,” confirmed
Michael Diaz, manager of Jewels of the Sea in West Palm Beach,
Florida, to Jill Barton of Associated Press.
In the film, the captive clown fish Nemo escapes to the sea
through a toilet. In actuality, Monterrey Bay Aquarium fish curator
Christina Slagar explained to Kath-leen Flynn and Allison T. Hoffman
of the Los Angeles Times, “Unless you live in Fiji, putting a
saltwater fish into a toilet is sudden death.”
If the flush itself doesn’t kill the fish, trying to breath
fresh water or the gases, chemicals, and bacteria they encounter
at a sewage treatment plant will prove fatal.
RotoRooter spokesperson Jeff Garcia told Flynn and Hoffman
that since Finding Nemo opened in late May, just one dispatch center
had received 70 calls from rattled parents whose children had flushed
their fish. “I hear kids crying in the background,” dispatcher
Margie Veladez said, “but there is nothing we can do. They’re gone.”
Finding Nemo is just the latest of many Disney films with
pro-animal themes to partially backfire. Most notoriously, each
release of 101 Dalmatians and sequels since 1959 has produced both a
drop in fur sales and a surge in the numbers of impulsively acquired
Dalmatians who are later dumped at animal shelters.
Massachusetts online animal advocate Kimberly Locke, known
as <KMBwolf@aol.com>, reported meanwhile that the success of the
“Harry Potter” book series by J.K. Rowling and the first two films
based on the books has already stimulated the growth in England of
clandestine traffic in breeding and selling owls, according to World
Owl Trust and the Independent Midlands Birds of Prey Rescue Centre.
The latter claims to have received 20 abandoned snowy owls, the
species kept by the young wizard Harry Potter as a familiar, since
the first film debuted.
Potter’s owl is reportedly the star of the third film in the
series, scheduled for summer 2004 release.