PETA Calls for Investigation of Potential Cruelty Violations at Austin Aquarium

Notorious Covino Brothers May Also Be Holding Dangerous Wild Animals Illegally, Warns Group

For Immediate Release:August 26, 2013

Contact: David Perle 202-483-7382, ext. 2194

Austin, Texas — In light of evidence that Ammon and Vince Covino—the brothers behind the Austin Aquarium—have already moved sharks, a baby kinkajou, and reptiles into the facility, which is still under construction, PETA has sent letters urging the city’s Animal Services Office and the city’s health authority to investigate and, if any animals are found, bring an enforcement action against the brothers. 

As PETA points out in its letters, the men—who do not have a permit to begin construction and were cited for two violations of the Austin City Code—have a history of cruelty to animals. More than 200 marine animals have died of starvation and other forms of neglect at their unaccredited aquarium in Portland, Oregon, and they may be neglecting animals in Austin. In addition, the health authority has the power to confiscate dangerous animals, and the Covino brothers may be holding at least one iguana, a kinkajou, and a crocodile—all species that have been known to bite and injure humans.

“Ammon and Vince Covino’s business is profit, and that profit comes at the expense of the animals they’ve left to starve, suffer, and die,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “PETA is urging Austin authorities to ensure that these men are not endangering animals—and human beings—by keeping wild animals at a noisy construction site.”

PETA has also called for criminal charges to be filed against the Covino brothers for the hundreds of deaths at their Portland facility. In addition to the brothers’ Austin City Code violations, Ammon Covino recently pleaded guilty after he was arrested in Boise, Idaho, in February on charges of conspiracy and unlawful purchase of marine animals. The indictment alleges that he tried to buy spotted eagle rays and lemon sharks for his aquariums illegally.

PETA’s letters to Austin’s Animal Services Office and the health authority are available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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