Feds Cite Local Aquarium Over Freezing Lemur, Giraffe Near Death

For Immediate Release:
April 8, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Houston – The Houston Interactive Aquarium & Animal Preserve has landed in hot water with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which recently issued the facility six citations for failing to meet the most minimal care standards of the federal Animal Welfare Act. The citations include feeding a young giraffe a diet that led to a life-threatening neurological condition, leaving a lemur in an unheated outdoor enclosure in freezing temperatures, and leaving a capybara on a gap-riddled wooden floor with no bedding whatsoever, as PETA has learned through the agency’s just-released inspection report.

“The animals at the Houston Interactive Aquarium have suffered from malnourishment, freezing temperatures, and distressing, forced public contact, simply so that this exploitative facility can make a buck,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “PETA is calling on everyone to shun such shady petting zoos and condemn their mistreatment of animals.”

This roadside zoo is closely tied to Ammon Covino, who has spent time in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking and cannot legally get a federal exhibitor’s license—but has nonetheless appeared in more than 150 videos about the facility’s development posted by Houston Interactive Aquarium & Animal Preserve, which has Covino’s wife’s name on its formal business filings. Meanwhile, his brother, Vince Covino, owns the notorious roadside aquarium chain SeaQuest. Last year alone, the USDA cited SeaQuest locations over the drowning of a wallaby, otters being hit with a metal bowl, and incidents in which a child was bitten by a capybara and an adult was bitten by a sloth.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview that fosters violence toward other animals. For more information, 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