Posted with permission from dpa German Press Agency

Tokyo (dpa) - A Japanese amusement park that froze 5,000 dead fish into the ice of a skating rink has been forced to close it after facing a barrage of criticism on social media.

The operator of Space World in Kitakyushu City first boasted that the attraction was "unprecedented" and a world first, apparently believing the temporary exhibition would lure more skaters.

Instead, the park's "Ice Aquarium" received a wave of online criticism with many calling the corpse-filled rink "cruel," "disgusting" and "disrespectful of life."

The skating rink opened on November 12 and had been scheduled to run through spring.

The operator said on its website it had closed the skating rink on Sunday and apologized to those who had been upset.

A Space World official told the daily newspaper Asahi that the operator had been aiming to allow visitors to "have a sense of sliding on the sea" with the project.

"We purchased fish hauled and sold dead at a market through a dealer," the official added. "Misunderstanding spread on the internet that the fish were frozen alive, but that was not the case."

The operator is considering holding a memorial service for the fish.