PETA to Feds: Investigate Portland Aquarium Co-Owner for Violations of Law

Group Also Requests That Feds Deny Aquarium License to Exhibit Otters

For Immediate Release:
December 5, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Portland, Ore.

PETA has just submitted a formal complaint to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service asking the agency to investigate Ammon Covino—co-owner of the Portland 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 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.

In the complaint, PETA points out that, according to former employees of the Idaho Aquarium, which Covino co-founded and served as an officer for until this past September, an endangered green sea turtle named Beam has been held in conditions that violate ESA standards regarding the care of protected turtles.

“Ammon Covino has apparently violated the spirit and letter of the Endangered Species Act,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on the authorities to help curb the neglect and mistreatment of animals at the Portland Aquarium.”

A whistleblower reported that on multiple occasions, Beam’s tank contained extremely high levels of nitrates (a byproduct of the breakdown of waste, including feces and uneaten food)—up to approximately six times the recommended limit—and coliform bacteria levels in the tank far exceeded the allowable limit. Information provided by the whistleblower also indicates that Beam was a fed an improper diet.

PETA also filed a request with the U.S. Department of Agriculture this morning urging the agency not to issue the Portland Aquarium an exhibitor’s license, which the facility would need to follow through legally on its announced plans for an otter exhibit. The Portland Aquarium is reportedly already under investigation by the Oregon Humane Society for cruelty to animals after records released by The Oregonian revealed that 200 marine animals had died of starvation and other forms of neglect there in just three months.


PETA’s complaints are available upon request. For more information, please visit

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