SeaQuest Interactive Aquariums

SeaQuest Interactive Aquariums, branded as SeaQuest, is an Idaho-based interactive marine life attraction chain. It features animal touch tanks and marine-themed children's birthday parties at shopping malls throughout the United States. SeaQuest is a family and tourist destination that is bringing new life to malls. The company has locations in Utah, Texas, Las Vegas, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Minnesota, Colorado, Virginia[4] and Florida. As of 2020, it has plans to open new facilities in Florida.[5][6][7][8]

SeaQuest
Private
FoundedNovember 2015[1]
Headquarters,
Area served
United States
Key people
Ammon Covino, founder
Vince Covino, founder and CEO[3]
ServicesEntertainment, aquariums, petting zoos
Revenue$5 million[1]
Number of employees
128
Websitevisitseaquest.com

The franchise is owned and operated by Vince Covino, a father who wanted to create a business that allowed families to spend more quality time together. Vince comes from a big family and is the brother of convicted poacher Ammon Covino.[9][10]

None of the aquariums are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.[11]

HistoryEdit

SeaQuest was established in 2015 by the Idaho-based Covino brothers, Ammon and Vince. Prior to the launch of SeaQuest, the Covino brothers opened several standalone aquariums beginning with the Idaho Aquarium in 2011 (changed ownership 2014), Portland Aquarium in 2012 (closed 2016), the Austin Aquarium in 2013) and the San Antonio Aquarium in 2014. SeaQuest provides an interactive experience for visitors by allowing guests the option to touch fish through open tanks, as well as holding and feeding animals in close proximity.[12] Although similar to its sister aquariums, SeaQuest locations are usually housed within shopping malls.

In 2013, Ammon Covino was found guilty of poaching animals off the shore of the Florida Keys, leaving Vince Covino to be the CEO of the business.[13]

LocationsEdit

SeaQuest has ten locations across America and is rapidly expanding.[14]

Violations and controversiesEdit

SeaQuest has been subject of numerous violations and controversies at various locations.[15][9] This list does not include violations and controversies at Covino's other aquarium businesses in Austin, San Antonio, and the former location in Portland, Oregon.

Littleton, ColoradoEdit

  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife suspended SeaQuest's exhibitor's license for two years due to an abundance of egregious violations related to the animal's welfare at the facility.[16][17]
  • In 2019, a sloth named Flash was burned by a heat lamp on two occasions resulting in significant burns to its face.[18] The employee responsible for the animal's care was charged with cruelty-to-animals, but was found not guilty.[19]
  • In 2018, Colorado Parks and Wildlife cited and fined SeaQuest for failing to report the death of a regulated kookaburra and issued warnings for the unlawful importation and possession of six wood ducks, unlawful importation of a caiman and wallaby, five counts of failing to report injuries to humans, and failing to report the deaths of 250 trout.[20]
  • In 2018, SeaQuest also failed a Colorado Department of Agriculture pre-license inspection. Issues included illegal transfer of koi fish, unsanitary conditions, and allowing visitors to walk through the aviary while birds were grounded, creating a precarious environment where the birds were vulnerable to being stepped on.[21]
  • Additional events in 2018 included SeaQuest storing approximately 80 parakeets in an underage teenager's garage after the company was ordered to shut down the interactive aviary,[22] and a state fine for SeaQuest's unlawful procurement of a two-toed sloth and failure to obtain an appropriate license for the animal.[23]
  • Approximately 30 injuries involving animal-to-human bites were also reported to occur between June 2018 and January 2019.[24]

Las Vegas, NevadaEdit

  • In 2019, Clark County Administrative Services suspended SeaQuest's exotic-animal permit because the facility held unpermitted otters and coatimundi. The agency imposed a $2,000 fine due to an Asian small-clawed otter dying after being caught in a water pool filtration system, and imposed an additional $2,000 fine for unpermitted animal breeding of Asian small-clawed otters.[25][26]
  • In 2018, a capybara named Wesley escaped while en route to a veterinary office and was injured in the process.[27]

Fort Worth, TexasEdit

In addition to violations, SeaQuest has been subject to considerable boycott and protests by many animal-rights advocates such as actor Alec Baldwin who blocked an aquarium from being constructed on Long Island.[30]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "SeaQuest Aquariums". Gust.
  2. ^ https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/seaquest-interactive-aquariums
  3. ^ "SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium CEO talks about plans, critics". CTInsider.com. September 14, 2019.
  4. ^ Baldwin, Carly (6 January 2020). "Criticism Mounts At Woodbridge SeaQuest Aquarium". Patch Media.
  5. ^ Ebersole, Rene (17 December 2018). "Operation Rock Bottom investigates Florida's aquarium trade". National Geographic.
  6. ^ Gelardi, Liz (25 July 2018). "SeaQuest's past full of protests and questions". KMGH-TV.
  7. ^ Grom, Cassidy (11 August 2019). "An aquarium is coming to N.J. but these activists want to free the fish". NJ.com.
  8. ^ Ortiz, Analise (15 April 2017). "Aquarium facing allegations of animal neglect". KTNV-TV.
  9. ^ a b "The Covino Family, SeaQuest (multiple locations), San Antonio Aquarium, and Austin Aquarium" (PDF). PETA. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  10. ^ Drake, Sarah (6 June 2013). "Portland, Boise aquarium owners bringing one to Austin". Austin Business Journal. Austin. Archived from the original on 10 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums | AZA". www.aza.org.
  12. ^ "Our Story". SeaQuest USA. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  13. ^ "The SeaQuest empire, the Covino family, & who is "The Codfather?"". Animals 24-7. 2019-09-08. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  14. ^ "SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium & Petting Zoo | Buy Tickets Online & Save". SeaQuest USA.
  15. ^ "Inspection Report". acis.aphis.edc.usda.gov. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  16. ^ "CPW suspends license for SeaQuest aquarium". KMGH. 2019-05-15. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  17. ^ "HEARING EXAMINER'S FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND INITIAL DECISION" (PDF). PETA. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  18. ^ "SeaQuest Criminal Trial Set After Sloth Suffers Burns (Aug. 2019)". PETA. 2019-05-15. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  19. ^ "Aquarium worker found not guilty of animal cruelty in case of an injured sloth". The Denver Post. 2019-10-02. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  20. ^ "SeaQuest license suspended after repeated violations". Colorado Community Media. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  21. ^ "New SeaQuest aquarium fails 2 animal welfare inspections". FOX31 Denver. 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  22. ^ "SeaQuest stores 80 parakeets in teenager's garage; state investigating". FOX31 Denver. 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  23. ^ Fleming, Sara (2019-09-05). "SeaQuest Littleton Employee Faces Animal-Neglect Charges". Westword. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  24. ^ "State investigating SeaQuest, 30 injuries reported". KMGH. 2019-02-28. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  25. ^ "Citation issued as SeaQuest remains under investigation". KTNV. 2019-02-25. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  26. ^ "Another animal death uncovered at SeaQuest". KTNV. 2019-06-28. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  27. ^ "Capybara found safe after brief escape from Las Vegas aquarium". October 23, 2018.
  28. ^ "SeaQuest in Hot Water Over Dangerous Public Handling of Otter". PETA. 2019-03-14. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  29. ^ "Inspection Report, United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service" (PDF). PETA. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  30. ^ "Alec Baldwin Urges Hometown to Block SeaQuest Aquarium". PETA. 2018-10-30. Retrieved 2020-01-18.