Deaths of Nearly 100 Animals Reported at Local SeaQuest; PETA Urges Families to Stay Away

For Immediate Release:
July 9, 2024

David Perle 202-483-7382

Woodbridge, N.J.

Damning New Jersey state records uncovered by PETA reveal that nearly 100 animals have died at SeaQuest Woodbridge in the past five years—including two Asian water monitors, a panther chameleon, and two sloths. The facility, located in the Woodbridge Center mall, was urged by state officials this year to end all public interactions with regulated wildlife for 120 days after an outbreak of highly contagious mycobacteria caused shell rot—an infection that’s most often indicative of chronically dirty enclosures and poor water quality—in turtles, leading to the deaths of several of them.

According to records from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), inadequate care at SeaQuest Woodbridge likely led to the deaths of many of the animals—including Bonnie and Cruise, Asian water monitors who both showed signs of gout, which is commonly caused by an improper diet or chronic dehydration; Garnet, a panther chameleon who was emaciated; and Suzy, a 4-month-old sloth who the USDA determined hadn’t been been fed an appropriate diet and died less than a month after arriving at the facility.

Bonnie and Cruise, a pair of Asian water monitors, who died two months apart from each other at SeaQuest Woodbridge in 2023. Credit: PETA

“Animals confined at this hellish shopping mall petting zoo have died of malnutrition and shell rot in dank, disease-ridden pools,” PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “PETA urges everyone to steer clear of SeaQuest Woodbridge, which either can’t or won’t give the vulnerable animals it exploits even the most basic care.”

PETA has submitted a complaint to the USDA requesting a further investigation into Suzy’s death, noting that it was a potential violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act. SeaQuest Woodbridge wasn’t cited for her death and has yet to face any consequences from federal authorities.

Since 2021, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife has sent seven warning letters to SeaQuest Woodbridge regarding legal violations and other issues at the facility. In September, state officials put the facility on a yearlong probation, prohibiting it from—among other things—acquiring regulated animals and implementing new public interactions due to continued violations of New Jersey’s Exotic and Nongame Permit regulations.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

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