You can call this tilapia “the one that got away.”
A viral video surfaced Thursday that showed an unusual face-off between two fishermen and a family from an animal rights organization comparing a “suffocating” tilapia to a human child. A man named Bob Hope was fishing with his family at Crescent Lake Park, which is north of St. Petersburg, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
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The video was shot by the animal rights activists. It begins with the group walking over to two fishermen who have just caught a tilapia.
The fish was flapping around on the cement and one of the men was putting a fresh piece of bait on a hook.
A boy, age 9, walks up from behind and asked, “Do you know fish feel pain?”
The men look at the boy and don’t respond. The boy continues, “When you hook them in the mouth, it really hurts them.”
At that point, one of the fishermen bites and says, “OK.”
The boy asked them to consider that fact and pack up their poles.
Mike Leaming, who was identified in the Times as the boy’s father, asks the men, “Are you really going to let this fish die like this? What if this was a dog and I hooked it in the mouth and threw it into the water?”
“We don’t eat dogs,” Hope said.
Leaming said all animals have the ability to love and feel pain; therefore, they should be left alone. The fishermen appeared to be gracious and told Leaming, “We respect your opinion.”
Leaming, who was joined by his wife and two children, continued to press the men on the fish. He asked them if they’d react the same way if it were a “human child.”
One of the men responded, “This isn’t a human child.”
“They have the same ability and emotions of a human child,” Leaming said.
The fishermen appeared to grow tired of the questions and told Leaming that he was harassing them. Leaming said he was on public property and rebutted: “You’re harassing this fish!”
The conversation continued and hit its crescendo when Leaming took the fish — which appeared to have some fight left in it— and hurled it back into the lake. The fishermen told Leaming that they were calling the police. Leaming fired back, “Call the police! I just saved a fish’s life, how about that? How about that?”
The Times reported that Hope called the St. Petersburg police but the group was gone by time officers arrived. It didn’t matter anyway because the police said they could not make an arrest.
A second-degree misdemeanor can only be enforced if an officer witnessed the crime, the report said. There’s video, but swiping a tilapia does not rise to the crime level, the paper reported.
The group is reportedly called Direct Action Everywhere. The report said activists from the group swept through Pinellas County this week and caused an earlier scene at a Chick-fil-A.
Hope told the paper he was going to eat the fish.
“I only shared it on social media because the police officers did nothing to protect my rights,” Hope said. “If there were people fishing all over the lake, and these people showed up, that’s a protest. We were fishing by ourselves when we were ambushed. That’s not a protest, that’s harassment.”
Edward DeMarche is a news editor for FoxNews.com. This Fox News piece is used by permission.
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