Otters—like all animals trapped at SeaQuest locations across the country—can’t thrive in shoddy shopping mall aquariums where they’re harassed by a steady stream of human visitors. Otters and humans have been injured at multiple SeaQuest aquariums, where dangerous “hands-on” encounters teach people all the wrong lessons about interacting with wild animals.
Here Are Five Ways That SeaQuest Mistreats Otters
1. Breeding Otters
SeaQuest has acquired otters from breeders around the country, including from one who was previously cited for allowing the public to interact directly with a tiger cub who was too young and vulnerable to disease.
Despite a permit condition that explicitly prohibited breeding, an otter named Hazel Nut gave birth to four pups at SeaQuest’s Las Vegas location. After being told by Clark County, Nevada, officials that the pregnancy violated the terms of its permit, SeaQuest tried to capitalize on this violation by issuing a news release announcing a media event to introduce the newborn baby otters to the public.
SeaQuest was assessed a fine of $2,000 for having the unpermitted otter pups, who were the result of illegal breeding.
2. Frequently Moving Otters
A veterinarian recommended that Chip and Dale—two of the otter pups born at SeaQuest Las Vegas—stay with their mother until they were 3.5 months old for their own health and welfare. However, SeaQuest decided to separate Hazel Nut from them when they were only 2 months old.
Hazel Nut was then sent to SeaQuest Fort Worth in Texas, along with her mate, Peanut, and two more of their pups—Cashew and Nutella. Less than four months after arriving in Texas, the pups were moved again, shipped to a SeaQuest location in Trumbull, Connecticut.
These moves are stressful for otters. After a female otter died in May 2018 at SeaQuest Las Vegas, the necropsy report stated that “[t]he stress of shipping to Vegas, introduction to a new environment and caging during construction may have caused fatal cardiac consequences.”
3. Inadequate Care and Conditions
At SeaQuest Fort Worth, a male otter named Xander was reportedly confined to a crate within a capybara enclosure for “time-out” when he became aggressive and was also kept in the crate overnight. Like other otters at SeaQuest, he was later shipped to a different SeaQuest location far across the country.
During a hearing on its citation for possessing unpermitted animals, SeaQuest Las Vegas admitted that an Asian small-clawed otter named Jelly had died after getting her arm stuck in a pool filtration system.
4. Constant Human Interaction
Otters with no escape from human eyes and hands can experience chronic stress and lack of sleep.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report cited SeaQuest Fort Worth for allowing members of the public to come into direct contact with Xander without an adequate barrier in place, resulting in at least four incidents in which visitors sustained wounds in 2019 alone.
5. Lack of Outdoor Access
For the most part, SeaQuest confines otters to exclusively indoor areas that have concrete flooring, with straw sometimes covering the concrete. When they’re not swimming in water, otters generally need dry land for resting. Ideally, the terrain would consist of grass, soil, sand, or pebbles—not concrete, which can cause foot and tail sores.
Help Otters and Other Animals Suffering at SeaQuest
Otters aren’t the only animals who suffer at SeaQuest. This notorious chain of seedy shopping mall aquariums has an alarming history that includes several legal violations, injuries to the public and employees, and allegations of hundreds of animal deaths and serious animal neglect. Please, never support SeaQuest or any other roadside tourist attraction that encourages humans to have direct contact with wild animals.
Take action for all animals trapped in SeaQuest exhibits: