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

PETA Asks FTC to Investigate Aquarium Chain for Unfair Trade Practices

For Immediate Release:
December 5, 2022

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Trumbull, Conn. – 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 and other guests in Trumbull—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 Trumbull, an otter bit a child on the hand and drew blood, posing a potential rabies risk; an otter bit another child on the finger; a kinkajou scratched a young child in the face while leaping off the child’s shoulder to get to a food bowl held by another child; and a pig reportedly bit a customer’s finger.

“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.”

Just a month after SeaQuest Trumbull opened, it received a formal warning from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and it’s been in hot water with that agency ever since, largely because of injuries to guests. At the end of last year, PETA requested that DEEP revoke SeaQuest’s exempt exhibitor status. In May, state officials sent a letter to SeaQuest formally terminating its status as an exempt exhibitor. SeaQuest appealed that decision, and out of that appeal came a settlement agreement that required the facility to remove a porcupine and two kinkajous but allowed it to maintain its exempt exhibitor status.

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. 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.

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