Feds Cite San Antonio Aquarium Over Porcupine Death

David Perle 202-483-7382

San Antonio

Just obtained by PETA, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report reveals that a female porcupine died after escaping into another porcupine’s enclosure at the San Antonio Aquarium, prompting the agency to issue a critical repeat citation for failing to properly maintain enclosures to protect the animals. The report states that an aquarium employee found the dead porcupine with quills from the other animal lodged in her body and that the two had been separated due to incompatibility issues.

The strip mall aquarium—associated with convicted wildlife trafficker Ammon Covino—apparently acquired the female porcupine in June from SeaQuest, a national chain of aquariums owned by Covino’s brother, Vince, that are plagued by animal welfare issues, animal deaths, legal violations, and injuries to employees and the public from direct contact with animals.

porcupine confined at San Antonio Aquarium

“A porcupine died because the San Antonio Aquarium couldn’t be bothered to secure the enclosures of two animals it knew couldn’t be together,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “This tragic and preventable death underscores why PETA urges the public to avoid this facility as if lives depend on it—because they do.”

San Antonio Aquarium’s inability to provide animals with the bare minimum care required by the federal Animal Welfare Act has resulted in previous USDA citations, including for several incidents in which lemurs bit or scratched customers during encounters and for failing to keep several other enclosures in good repair—putting animals at risk of injury. PETA notes that Ammon Covino is prohibited from holding a USDA exhibitor’s license because of his criminal history but appears to have continued his involvement in the San Antonio Aquarium by using his wife’s name on official paperwork.

PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” and the group opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

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