Aussie millionaire responds to outrage over 'cruel' living room shark tank video
'Haters are what gets you views. If you're doing something that's boring and right, no one cares,' he told Yahoo.
A Sydney high roller is controversially delighting in dropping live prey into his shark tank and watching angry viewers respond online, as he faces a barrage of criticism for keeping large sharks in the relatively small residential tank.
"I have no idea how this works, I just want to see how many people get worked up by it," he bluntly explains in a video.
While broadcasting footage of his $500,000 tank inside his multimillion-dollar Sutherland Shire home, the anonymous owner of the incendiary TikTok account asked his followers to donate virtual gifts to help buy fish.
As expected, animal welfare advocates were furious. "Proof money doesn’t buy you class," one person teased. "But it does buy you sharks," the TikToker wrote back.
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, the public agitator said he "enjoys" the controversy and even shakes off being compared to a Bond villain. "I’m sure you’ve seen my responses to some people. I just find it hilarious," he said.
"If people say it's slack what I'm doing, I just assume they're vegans or vegetarians," he said. "Because everyone eats meat. If you go to McDonald's, that was once a living breathing cow, no different."
Haters are what gets you views. If you're doing something that's boring and right, no one cares.
Is live-feeding sharks entertaining?
One video in which he dumps a bucket of live fish in the tank for his sharks to quickly tear apart rankled many on TikTok.
"Look at them, they died straight away," one man excitedly exclaims, looking on at the 20,000 litre tank. "They're going to rip him," someone else squeals.
But clearly not everyone shares their joy. After watching the videos, Humane Society International (HSI) described the act as a “very traumatising end-of-life scenario for those poor animals”.
"I think it speaks to a disconnect in our minds, that we enjoy watching animals kill and be killed," HSI shark expert Lawrence Chlebeck told Yahoo. "The faster our society can move along from those kinds of things being used as entertainment the better."
While feeding live vertebrates to reptiles and live baiting greyhounds is specifically banned in NSW, there isn’t a corresponding law specific to fish.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t protected. Across the state, all animals including fish and sharks are covered by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, but a live-feeding defence can be made when it's “necessary for the predatory animal’s survival”.
RSPCA NSW confirmed with Yahoo it has not prosecuted anyone over fish welfare in domestic tanks.
What other stunts has the shark tank owner pulled?
Used video-game style graphics as a live fish is slowly torn apart.
Offering to release one shark for every $10,000 donated.
Force-feeding his black-tip reef shark after it wouldn’t eat.
How much room do the sharks have?
The 20,000-litre tank is six metres long, two metres high and two metres wide, and according to TheGyp_Aus it looks smaller on screen. But not everyone is convinced it's an appropriate size.
Mr Chlebeck has concerns about the amount of room the sharks have to swim, noting it is much smaller than their natural home range.
“I think these sharks in captivity are not given enough room to have a good life and a healthy life,” he said. “Even small sharks that stick to the bottom, range for quite a large distance.”
Mr Chlebeck believes sharks are more intelligent than they are usually given credit for and require space to hunt and patrol. “To put four walls around them in a very small space is nothing short of cruel,” he said.
How many sharks are in the tank?
According to the man behind the TheGyp_Aus account, he has one black-tip reef shark, two 1.3 metre-long white-tip reef sharks, two Port Jackson sharks, three epaulette sharks, two banjo sharks, and one bamboo shark.
He also has a number of moray eels, a blue grouper, two Goliath groupers, one sand ray, two spotted rays, a 1.8kg coral trout, and a number of schooling fish.
Can you guess how much the tank costs to run?
TheGyp_Aus said the tank alone cost $250,000, the marble exterior added an extra $150,000 and the sharks around $100,000.
After he switched on the tank, his electricity bill skyrocketed from $300 to $1200 a month. He now plans on installing solar panels across his roof, which he believes will bring his electricity bill down to zero, and keep the power going when there is a blackout on his street.
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He only has one regret about installing the tank — that he "didn't go bigger". To remedy that, he now plans to build a larger tank in another house he owns.
"It'll be a massive cylinder that goes through three floors... and all the way up to the roof," he said.
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