The RSPCA has launched an investigation after footage emerged showing a man allegedly eating a live goldfish at a pet store in Penrith.
In the video, one of the men can be seen pointing at a goldfish in a tank and saying “let’s go that one there”.
A staff member scoops the fish out of the tank and puts in a plastic bag, before leaving to get elastic bands to seal the bag shut.
When she walks away, the man says “Is this the goldfish we want?” as he reaches into the bag, picks up the goldfish and swallows it whole while grimacing.
The Petbarn worker returns seconds later and looks into the empty bag as the man laugh.
In the next frame of the video, the man can be seen vomiting up the fish in the car park outside the store.
The video – which features each man performing stunts such as putting a cigarette out on their tongue – was posted to the Facebook page of boxer Kyron Dryden on Tuesday.
RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector David O’Shannessy said a “large number” of complaints were made to the RSPCA by members of the public.
He said the matter will be “thoroughly investigated”.
“It’s completely astounding how anyone could think it is funny to eat a live pet fish, where it would suffer a slow and painful death, all in a poor attempt at humour,” Mr O’Shannessy said.
“The law is very clear around protections for fish and other sentient beings under the legislation.”
Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979, animal cruelty is punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both.
In a statement, Petbarn chief executive Martin Nicholas said the company is “deeply upset at the treatment of animals in this video”.
“The wellbeing and welfare of pets is of the utmost importance to us and core to our values,” he said.
“Our team is investigating this upsetting episode further.
“We have reported the incident to the RSPCA and will fully co-operate in action that can be taken.”