15th February 2024

In a windowless basement beneath London, Sea Life imprisons 15 Gentoo penguins. They will spend their entire lives in captivity if we don’t free them.

Freedom for Animals is taking up the fight to free a colony of gentoo penguins from a basement underneath London. With no daylight or fresh air, and a pitifully small enclosure, these penguins spend every day deprived of the opportunity to enjoy their natural behaviours. Native to the Antarctic Circle and surrounding regions of the Southern Hemisphere, London Sea Life Aquarium’s penguins are forced to endure an unnatural environment, with only a cruel mural of their true home painted on the wall to show where they truly belong.

Gentoo penguins are the strongest swimmers and the deepest divers of all birds, yet their enclosure in London offers just 6-7 feet of depth in which to dive - a pitiful fraction of the 600ft they can dive to in the wild. They are a small colony, in a tiny enclosure, that does not meet their physical and social needs. Added to this, the constant public observation and noise has the capacity to cause serious stress and adverse health effects.

All animals deserve their freedom, and the businesses that profit from their captivity often use many excuses to try to justify incarcerating animals. Frequently, they claim ‘conservation’ as the reason behind their actions, and frequently this claim falls down under scrutiny. Conservation is categorically inapplicable to Sea Life’s gentoo penguin exhibit as the species is currently doing well in the wild and at present their population levels are listed as of ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN Red List. Therefore, the breeding programmes that Sea Life is undertaking with this species is very clearly not motivated by conservation (as promotional material would claim).

Sea Life is simply breeding gentoo penguins to create a constant supply of unconsenting exhibits for an exploitative attraction. It has to end now.

Sea Life is a brand owned by multi-national and multi-billion pound attractions business, Merlin Entertainments. Their aquariums - filled with innocent, living, feeling animals, held captive as forced exhibits - sit within a business portfolio alongside Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museums, LEGOLAND® Resorts, and ‘The Dungeons’. Now it seems that their lines have become blurred, and penguins are confined to a dungeon of their own at SeaLife London Aquarium. But, they are not models or props, they are animals that live for decades and deserve to do so in daylight and fresh air. 

Following consultation with experts in the field, we are asking that:

1. Merlin Entertainments ceases the exhibition of penguins with IMMEDIATE effect.

2. SEA LIFE uses some of its parent company’s multi billion annual revenue to guarantee a safe retirement to sanctuary for the penguins which it is currently displaying. Any sanctuary which is established MUST be operated by a recognised and respected welfare and conservation organisation which is NOT part of the Merlin global brand and in which SEA LIFE has NO controlling interest.

There is no reason Merlin Entertainment cannot do this, and no excuse for the continuation of the breeding and exhibit of gentoo penguins. They have the means, and already transport gentoos all over the world to take part in their ‘breeding programmes’. It’s time for these animals to make one last move, out of the darkness and into the light, to live out the rest of their lives in peace.

We have written to Merlin Entertainments and Sea Life to make our request on behalf of these penguins - but your voice will make the message so much louder.

Head to our action page to sign our petition and end this exploitation.

Join the demonstration at Sea Life London Aquarium on the 9th of March!