SeaQuest Littleton is a shoddy aquarium inside a mall near Denver where animals have died horrifically, including a wallaby who drowned in his enclosure and birds who were kicked and stomped to death. Visitors and employees at the crummy business have also been bitten by animals who were likely acting out of fear or instinct.
Opened in 2018, the notorious facility has already been cited for a laundry list of dangerous and cruel incidents—including several in 2018, which led to a two-year suspension of its state zoological license.
Keep reading to find out why SeaQuest Littleton has no business keeping animals.
Animals Have Died and Sustained Serious Injuries at SeaQuest Littleton
SeaQuest Littleton fails to provide animals with safe and suitable enclosures and puts them and the public in potentially dangerous situations by allowing encounters with any human who is willing to pay the entrance fee. Several animals have died or been injured at SeaQuest Littleton, and hundreds more have died while in transit to the facility. The following are a few examples:
- In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited SeaQuest Littleton for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act because the facility had failed to provide a wallaby named Ben with a way to climb out of a deep-water aquarium tank located at the back of his enclosure. As a result, he fell into the tank and drowned.
- In June 2018, 250 trout died during transport to SeaQuest Littleton.
- In November 2018, a sloth named Flash was severely burned by a heat lamp in his enclosure, causing swelling around his eyes, nose, mouth, and lips. There were multiple raw areas and redness on his face, and the wounds were oozing. According to staff, he winced while eating strawberries and his remaining food had to be cut smaller in order for him to eat. This was the second time that Flash was burned by a heat lamp in his enclosure.
- In August 2018, 12 trout died at SeaQuest and a kookaburra was found dead by an employee. Long pieces of material were found in the back of the bird’s throat, but it was uncertain whether they were the cause of death. SeaQuest reported to state officials that the kookaburra had drowned in a water bowl.
- In June 2018, a patron kicked and stomped on birds in the interactive aviary, killing five birds and injuring others, and 250 rainbow trout fingerlings died in transit to the facility.
Animals Have Injured Visitors and Staff at SeaQuest Littleton
In less than a year, between June 2018 and April 2019, SeaQuest Littleton had more than 40 incidents in which guests or staff were bitten or otherwise injured by animals. No wonder—when you put wild animals in a shopping mall and force them to interact with the public day in and day out, injuries will be all too common.
- In April 2019, a pig lunged at and bit a patron.
- In January 2019, a pufferfish bit an 8-year-old child on the thumb. (Pufferfish secrete an extremely potent poison called tetrodotoxin, which can be transferred to a person through a bite, potentially leading to numbness, difficulty breathing, and death by suffocation.) That same month, a sulcata tortoise named Stormin’ Norman bit a patron’s hand; an Asian water monitor named Spartacus, who was being fed, jumped up and bit an employee; an iguana jumped onto a 6-year old child’s chest and “got a claw inside her mouth”; an iguana jumped onto an employee’s left shoulder and caught a nail under the employee’s eye; and an iguana trying to climb a patron’s leg scratched an employee’s wrist and hand.
- In December 2018, an iguana bit an 8-year-old child who was feeding the animal, a pufferfish bit the thumb of a patron who was feeding the animal, and a stingray stung an employee, who had to go to urgent care when the barb became lodged in their hand. (A venomous stingray barb typically causes intense pain, nausea, weakness, and fainting.)
- In November 2018, an iguana bit a patron’s finger while being fed, a white cockatoo named Bella bit an employee’s finger, an iguana scratched an employee’s arm, an iguana bit a 4-year-old child while being fed, a pacu bit a 7-year-old child who was feeding the fish, and Spartacus bit a patron’s finger. According to the injured visitor’s Yelp review, the bite caused what appeared to be serious lacerations to his hand. The patron wrote that after promising to “take care of everything,” SeaQuest Littleton sent them a letter “denying responsibility.”
- In October 2018, a horn shark bit a 7-year-old child while being fed, an iguana scratched an employee who was removing the animal from a tree in the exhibit, an iguana bit a toddler while being fed, an iguana bit an 8-year-old child while being fed, an iguana bit an employee, and a cockatoo named Bella bit an employee.
- In September 2018, Colorado Parks and Wildlife cited and fined SeaQuest for two counts of failing to report injuries to humans. In this month alone, a lorikeet bit a patron, Ben the wallaby scratched and bit an employee, Ben also “grabbed” an employee’s arm “and scratched & kicked causing the employee’s right arm to bleed,” a bamboo shark bit a patron while being fed in the shark lagoon, Spartacus scratched an employee while he was being transferred to a holding container, a Burmese python named Barbosa struck and latched onto the hand of an employee who was trying to fill the animal’s water, an iguana bit a 5-year-old child who was feeding the animal, an iguana scratched two employees when they tried to remove the animal from a tree next to an enclosure, and an iguana scratched an employee who was removing the animal from a visitor’s leg.
- In August 2018, an iguana bit a patron on the hand. On the same day, a porcupine pufferfish bit a patron when she put her finger in the animal’s enclosure. According to the incident report, the patron flung the fish out of the tank after she was bitten but caught the animal before they touched the ground. The woman’s husband later reported that she had called 911 to report numbness and difficulty breathing as a result of the incident. That same month, Stormin’ Norman bit an employee, an iguana bit a toddler on the finger as she fed the animal, and a red tegu named Bossk scratched an employee’s arm.
- In June 2018, a lizard bit a young child during feeding.
SeaQuest Littleton Has Racked Up a Shocking Number of Citations
SeaQuest Littleton has been cited frequently for violating both state and federal laws, including for failing to report injuries to humans, failing to report deaths of animals, and operating without a necessary permit.
- In June 2021, the USDA cited SeaQuest Littleton for failing to store food and bedding in a manner that would protect it from contamination, deterioration, and mold. An open bag and a ripped bag of bedding were in the main guest area, exposed to the public, where the bedding could become contaminated. In the food preparation area, an open bag of biscuits for guinea pigs wasn’t stored appropriately to protect it from deterioration and contamination.
- In April 2019, Colorado Parks and Wildlife suspended SeaQuest Littleton’s state zoological license for two years after the facility racked up eight animal care violation citations in less than a year. The incidents included unlawfully importing a sloth without a required permit, failing to report the death of a bird who reportedly had drowned in a water bowl, and allowing a sloth to be burned twice by a heat lamp in the enclosure holding the animal.
- In October 2019, the USDA cited SeaQuest for housing two rabbits with a toucan, which could cause the rabbits—who are prey animals—stress. The facility was also cited for failing to maintain an enclosure holding two wallabies in good repair. The back wall had two holes exposing drywall, which could be a health hazard if ingested by the animals.
- In July 2019, the USDA cited SeaQuest for failing to have acquisition records for several animals and failing to have disposition records for a sloth, two capybaras, and two Asian small-clawed otters who were no longer at the facility.
- In August 2018, SeaQuest gave approximately 80 parakeets to an underage employee, who stored them in his garage after the company was ordered to shut down its interactive aviary and reduce the number of birds at the facility. According to Colorado Department of Agriculture records, SeaQuest’s transfer of these birds to the teenager—who in turn gave them away to other members of the public—violated the July 2018 cease and desist order.
- In June 2018, SeaQuest was cited and fined by Colorado Parks and Wildlife for unlawful importation and possession of a two-toed sloth. Officials had found the sloth and capybaras in the basement of a SeaQuest manager’s home. Ten days after SeaQuest was told that these animals shouldn’t be moved to its facility until a license had been issued, officials found all three animals on display.
Our Fellow Animals Don’t Belong in SeaQuest’s Shopping Mall Aquariums
Intelligent, curious animals have complex lives of their own, and they don’t want to spend them in crummy shopping mall aquariums. The Littleton location is just one of SeaQuest’s hellholes—nationwide, the company has amassed many reports of animal neglect, animal deaths, legal violations, and injuries to the public. It’s clear that SeaQuest shouldn’t be operating anywhere. Take action to shut down the company’s exploitative facilities now: