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Aquarium sued over alleged shark attack
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-21 05:46

SHANGHAI: An experienced scuba diver, bitten by a 3-metre shark while swimming in a Shanghai aquarium, was so traumatized by the experience he is afraid of even getting into the bath.

So says lawyer, Chen Daisong, who is representing diver Zhang Liang as he sues the aquarium's owners for 419,345.8 yuan (US$51,707).

Zhang is demanding compensation for "mental suffering and other losses" from Shanghai Changfeng Ocean World Co Ltd.

Shanghai Putuo District People's Court will hold the second hearing in the case today.

Zhang went diving in the park on July 17, this year. Chen contends that as Zhang swam to the surface, a 3-metre-long shark suddenly attacked him from behind.

"He was bitten by the shark on the top and right side of the head and the right ear," Chen said.

"A fragment of shark's tooth, about three centimetres long, was still embedded in his head when he arrived at hospital.

"Zhang has recovered physically, but is still suffering from that nightmarish memory, which is all because of the inappropriate practice of the company."

According to Chen, it is recognized practice for every diver swimming in the tank to be accompanied by an instructor. On the occasion when Zhang was attacked, he says, there were three civilian divers, but only two instructors.

The two instructors were also feeding the sharks while the divers were in the tank, an action likely to excite the fish, Chen added.

Chen said he would ask the court to request the aquarium be temporarily closed until improvements are made to its operations.

It is understood that Chen will present a witness, a Miss Chen, who was watching from outside the tank.

The aquarium's owners, however, argued in the last hearing that Zhang himself bears responsibility for the incident.

They say Zhang rose to the surface suddenly without permission from his instructor, bumping into the shark's jaws.

Purchased from Indonesia five years ago, the shark is tame and has never attacked anyone, the aquarium owners said.

The company has handed the court a video of the incident, filmed by a tourist, which will be played during the hearing today.

But Chen says he is confident of winning the case, and that the video will prove it was the shark biting Zhang, not Zhang head-butting the shark, which caused his client's injuries.

(China Daily 10/21/2005 page3)

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