Krakow Aquarium ‘looked like it had been bombed’

It used to be a major attraction for tourists and locals, where visitors could marvel at an underwater world and come face to face with exotic creatures. But now Krakow’s aquarium has closed – after the owner lost a legal battle with his landlords.

Local media in Krakow reported that the Aquarium at ul. Sebastiana had almost been ‘razed to the ground’ as American owner Nathan Gendreau, who also runs a chain of hostels, dismantled the facility and removed aquariums and fittings ahead of eviction on June 18.

Nasze Miasto reported that the bailiff who attended the site to supervise the eviction, accompanied by police, said: “I was amazed at the level of damage. The exhibition has been devastated.”

The newspaper Gazeta Krakowska said the Polish Academy of Sciences, which owns the building, asked a court to evict Mr Gendreau, claiming that he had damaged the premises and owed 500,000zł in rent. The newspaper also reported that several animals – some rare or endangered – had been left unattended in the shell of the former aquarium, and that they were being taken care of by a specialist firm.

Gazeta Wyborcza said that the aquarium looked like it had been bombed when the bailiff arrived. The newspaper reported that animals had been ‘trapped in this hell’ of plaster, broken glass and cables, and that its journalists had to be guided around the site by torchlight because there was no electricity.

The newspaper asked why Mr Gendreau had dismantled the aquarium before all the animals had been removed, and reports that he had asked for more time to renegotiate, but did not get it.

Mr Gendreau told Polish reporters that destruction of the facility had not been his intention. He said that he needed to move the aquariums at short notice, so had to dismantle them quickly.

He also said that his animals had been well-cared for, and had been fed to prepare them for their journey from the attraction.

Posting on the American CNN ‘citizen journalist’ iReport site, Mr Gendreau wrote on June 4 that almost 1,000 animals needed new homes, due to a ‘long-running dispute.’

He added that there had been an agreement that he could used the premises as an aquarium, that no rent was due and that the claim that the building had been ‘devastated’ was ‘an extreme lie.’

Mr Gendreau wrote that he had spent 5 million zł on the aquarium since 2007, and that 30 people employed there would lose their jobs.

He added: “Taking away the aquarium from the people of Poland is criminal to say the least… This is a completely unique project in Poland and there is nothing like it. When it is gone the children will lose the most; Krakow is not a very family friendly city, with very few options on a rainy day to entertain your children.”

Photo: Krakow Aquarium in happier days (David McGirr)

5 thoughts on “Krakow Aquarium ‘looked like it had been bombed’

  • July 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm
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    Anyone who has dealt with the Polish legal system and Polish courts can read between the lines and understand exactly what happened. Nathan Gendreau’s legal problems due to corrupt officials/professors have been documented for any who care to research the matter.

    But giving a firm deadline of June 18 to vacate an entire aquarium, and to do it safely for the animals and to expect this to be completed without any resultant damage to the building, is insane and completely beyond the pale.

    If the Polish Academy of Sciences was so very concerned about the animals and the state of the building, why didn’t they attempt to help Mr. Gendreau in some way? Instead, this news report states “the bailiff who attended the site to supervise the eviction” – the Polish Academy of Sciences couldn’t even lift a finger to assist? Their response is to send a ‘bailiff’ to ‘supervise the eviction’? Oh, boy, such caring folks, that Academy. If they tried to help any more, they could have just sent a full wrecking ball.

    And then there is this little gem: “..journalists had to be guided around the site by torchlight because there was no electricity”. Let’s get this straight – the Polish Academy of Sciences evicted a relatively long-term tenant (5 years – since 2007 according to the article) with a lot of built-in fixtures and infrastructure, and they expected the electricity to magically remain on after this eviction? They didn’t care to check the status of the project of dissembling the long-term fixtures and infrastructure, even though they supposedly cared so much about the animals and building? They didn’t make any plans nor allowances for the electric to remain on in their OWN building after they evicted this tenant? And then they launch these attacks in the press trying to blame Mr. Gendreau??

    This is a blatant media attack and personal character assassination, not to mention borderline libel and defamation, carried out by the Polish Academy of Sciences against Mr Gendreau and the Aquarium. And this is sadly typical of Polish government agencies of all types, and is enabled, if not encouraged, by the antiquated not-so-post-communist Polish court system.

    It’s despicable and horrible, and the root of this entire problem can be laid at the feet of the corrupt professors and officials at the Polish Academy of Sciences.

    Regards,
    Witness of Corruption and Discrimination in Krakow

    Reply
  • July 7, 2012 at 4:38 am
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    There’s a better aquarium

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    • July 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm
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      ^^ so what is wrong with 2 aquariums? Competition would make them both better. Besides this one was in the heart of the city. Did the better aquarium play a role in the eviction. What kind of sicko evicts an aquarium to entertain kids & adults?

      Reply
  • July 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm
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    Terrible news ! The Krakow acquarium was extremely popular among tourists ,locals and children.

    If the corruption of the officials and professors from he Polish Academy of Sciences can be proven, it is a real disgrace but also a sign one should not rent any premises owned by the Academy of Sciences.

    How come the Municipality of Krakow did not do anything ? Don’t they understand that it was an important asset for the Economy of Tourism in Krakow?

    Reply
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