Federal Complaint Challenges SeaQuest Fort Worth’s Animal Encounters Over Danger to the Public

PETA Asks FTC to Investigate Aquarium for Unfair Trade Practices

For Immediate Release:
December 5, 2022

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Fort Worth, Texas – This morning, PETA submitted a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting that the agency investigate SeaQuest for unfair business practices, noting that members of the public, including children, have been bitten and injured at the aquarium chain, which continues to market hands-on encounters with animals as safe, family-friendly entertainment.

PETA’s complaint points out that at SeaQuest Fort Worth, a fish bit a toddler’s fingers after she dipped her hand in a touch tank, a capybara bit the hand of a child who had reached over the side of an enclosure, a sloth bit a person who had attempted to pet the animal during an encounter, and an iguana jumped from a rock and latched onto a 3-year-old’s arm, causing the child to be rushed to the hospital and given six sutures.

“SeaQuest’s animal encounters have caused significant physical injury to an unsuspecting public, thereby violating the FTC Act’s prohibition on unfair trade practices,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “PETA is calling on the government to act before another person is wounded or worse at these facilities, which are ticking time bombs.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—notes that hundreds of animals have died at SeaQuest locations across the country, most recently five sugar gliders at the Fort Worth facility. The chain’s CEO, Vince Covino, was fined $5,000 in 2017 for violations of the Idaho Uniform Securities Act after failing to reveal a prior disciplinary action to potential investors.

PETA also submitted an FTC complaint over animal encounters at Austin Aquarium, which is evidently run by Vince Covino’s brother Ammon, a convicted wildlife trafficker. PETA’s recent undercover investigation into Austin Aquarium found injured animals left to languish without veterinary care, animals abandoned, and other horrors.

After discussions with PETA, Sam’s Club confirmed that it would end its sale of tickets to SeaQuest, due to the chain’s string of animal deaths, neglect, legal violations, and injuries to employees and the public.

For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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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