Meet 10+ Animals Who Suffered or Died Horrifically at SeaQuest

Published by Tara DiMaio.

An otter named Jelly and a sloth named Flash are just two of the countless animals who have suffered at SeaQuest aquariums across the country. The stories of the victims below are heartbreaking and horrific.

SeaQuest profits from exploiting animals for entertainment. Its speciesist business model lets people pay to poke stingrays and gawk at octopuses in the middle of shopping malls. Holding wild animals in malls puts the health and safety of both them and humans at risk.

PETA’s campaign to stop the sleazy company continues through government appeals and complaints to local law enforcement. In 2018, we teamed up with actor Alec Baldwin to speak out against SeaQuest’s effort to build a facility in Long Island, New York, which led the company to pull its permit application. PETA filed a lawsuit in 2019, which also ended in a major victory for animals when SeaQuest agreed to end its bid to open up shop in The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale mall in Florida. PETA won’t rest until this business stops exploiting animals, and your voice makes a difference.

Here are just some of SeaQuest’s victims:

1. An otter named Jelly drowned after her arm got stuck in a pool filtration system. SeaQuest admitted that it didn’t report her death to local animal control.

2. Another female otter died, and the necropsy found “fatal cardiac consequences” that likely resulted from stress. SeaQuest had had her shipped to the facility and thrust her into an unfamiliar environment. Before her death, it kept her in a cage during construction.

3. A sloth named Flash was severely burned by a heat lamp—twice—before modifications to the enclosure prevented him from accessing the lamp.

Animal control warned SeaQuest that the heat lamp in Flash’s enclosure was a burn hazard.

4. A kookaburra reportedly drowned in a water bowl inside of their enclosure.

5. A capybara named Westley was found bleeding and limping after an attempted escape while he was being transported inside a plastic dog carrier in an open truck bed.

capybara at SeaQuest aquarium

A capybara is confined to a cramped enclosure with a dirty pool.

6. A visitor to SeaQuest Folsom in California documented that a fish was left to flop on the ground for a prolonged period of time, likely suffocating. The fall from the tank to the floor alone would have been enough to daze and disorient the animal.

7. Less than a month after SeaQuest Folsom opened, a visitor found a dead stingray lying at the bottom of a touch tank.

Severely crowded fish in a dirty tank at SeaQuest

Severely crowded fish in a dirty tank at SeaQuest.

8. An iguana named Violet died a week after a veterinarian had noted that she was very thin. SeaQuest had been attempting to force-feed her. The veterinarian’s notes report that in that same week, another skinny iguana died.

9. A child kicked and stomped on birds, killing five and injuring others.

Bird imprisoned at SeaQuest

A macaw at SeaQuest is missing feathers, likely from stress-related plucking.

10. A former employee reported that an octopus had been “cooked alive” after the water temperature in the tank rose.

11. An employee closed a door on a flying squirrel who was attempting to flee from an enclosure after an encounter with a visitor. The animal was killed.

12. The sloth at SeaQuest in Layton, Utah, died, becoming the third sloth—who, like the others, was generically named Flash—to die at a SeaQuest location. The company claimed in a Facebook post that he had died of “complications that arose during a standard vet visit.” In December 2021, PETA alerted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to this video of Flash repeatedly rocking back and forth, a known indicator of severe psychological distress in captive animals.

Please, never visit SeaQuest aquariums.

SeaQuest puts the public at risk and leaves a trail of dead and injured animals in its wake wherever it operates. Its clear disregard for the lives of otters, sloths, birds, and others should be a red flag to everyone considering a visit to one of its facilities. Learn more at

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind