Findings Mirror Recent Undercover Exposé of Neglect at Sister Aquarium in Austin
For Immediate Release:
August 25, 2022
David Perle 202-483-7382
San Antonio – A just-released report obtained by PETA from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that the San Antonio Aquarium, apparently run by convicted wildlife trafficker Ammon Covino, received citations for dangerous conditions and for failing to meet the minimal care standards of the federal Animal Welfare Act. The news comes on the heels of PETA’s recent undercover investigation into the Austin Aquarium, evidently also operated by Covino, which found injured animals left to languish without veterinary care, animals abandoned, and staff discussing lying to medical professionals about animal bites. Covino is prohibited from holding a USDA exhibitor’s license because of his criminal history but appears to have continued his involvement in both the San Antonio Aquarium and the Austin Aquarium by using his wife’s name on official paperwork.
This summer, USDA inspectors cited the San Antonio–based indoor petting zoo and aquarium over a broken HVAC system, which allowed temperatures to reach a sweltering 89 degrees—hot enough to risk heatstroke in the rabbits housed there. While the HVAC system was down, the facility failed to provide adequate ventilation in a rabbit enclosure where at least one animal showed signs of discomfort. Inspectors also slapped the petting zoo with a citation after finding two young kangaroos in fabric pouches hanging from hooks on the wall in an office filled with electrical cords, tools, and other supplies that posed potential safety hazards.
“In any facility this convicted wildlife trafficker has a hand in, animals are at serious risk of suffering from extreme temperatures, injury, and other abuse,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “PETA is calling on everyone to shun this shady petting zoo and for the USDA to revoke the license of any facility associated with Ammon Covino.”
PETA’s investigation into the Austin Aquarium also revealed an employee’s reported attempt to crush a rat to death with a cinderblock; a large number of snakes gone missing; 27 separate incidents in which lemurs bit members of the public, including children or staff; and other horrors.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.