Group Cites Federal Conviction, Apparent Violations of Endangered Species Act, Urges Seizure of Sea Turtle Reportedly Held in Harmful Conditions
For Immediate Release:
December 5, 2013
David Perle 202-483-7382
Boise, Idaho – This morning, PETA sent a complaint to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service asking the agency to investigate the Boise-based Idaho Aquarium for apparent violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). PETA’s complaint comes in the wake of a federal court’s decision earlier this week to sentence former aquarium president Ammon Covino to a year and a day in prison for conspiring to buy illegally captured spotted rays and lemon sharks in violation of the Lacey Act, which prohibits illegal trafficking in wildlife. The Idaho Aquarium itself also pleaded guilty to this violation earlier this year.
In the new complaint, PETA points out that, according to former employees of the unaccredited facility, an endangered green sea turtle named Beam has been neglected and held in conditions that directly violate ESA standards for the care of protected turtles. These violations—as well as the aquarium’s guilty plea for violating the Lacey Act—are grounds for revocation of the permit required to exhibit Beam.
“The Idaho Aquarium has apparently violated both the spirit and the letter of the Endangered Species Act, and at least one animal has reportedly suffered as a result,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “If the allegations are confirmed, the solution is simple: The aquarium’s permit should be revoked, and Beam should be relocated to a safe new home.”
A whistleblower reported that on numerous occasions Beam’s tank contained excessive nitrate levels from the breakdown of waste—up to approximately six times the recommended limit—and coliform bacteria levels far surpassed the allowable limit. Information provided by a whistleblower also indicates that Beam has been fed an improper diet.
PETA also sent a request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture today urging the agency to investigate the Idaho Aquarium and not to issue it a license to exhibit seals and otters. The aquarium is reportedly already being investigated by the Idaho Humane Society, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and the Idaho attorney general.
PETA's complaints are available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.