Federal Complaint Challenges SeaQuest Utah’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

David Perle 202-483-7382

Layton, Utah

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 in Layton—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 Utah, a kinkajou bit an unsupervised guest who had reached under the door of an enclosure; an otter bit a guest’s thumb; an otter bit a patron’s finger while being fed; a coati bit an employee and a guest, causing skin abrasions; and the same coati bit an employee and a guest the following month, also causing skin abrasions.

“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. 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.

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. In 2016, even though his parole restrictions prohibited him from doing so, Ammon was involved in the construction and animal acquisitions for SeaQuest in Utah and Nevada, for which he was sent back to prison.

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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