PETA Supports Criminal Investigation into Portland Aquarium Owners

Hundreds of Animals Die From Negligence and Cutting Corners

For Immediate Release:
August 22, 2013

Shakira Croce 202-483-7382

Portland, Ore. — Today, PETA sent an urgent letter to Sharon Harmon, executive director of the Oregon Humane Society, urging her to seek criminal charges against the owners of the Portland Aquarium, brothers Ammon and Vince Covino. PETA’s request comes on the heels of news reports that more than 200 marine animals died at the unaccredited facility from starvation and other preventable causes between February 18 and May 16 alone. According to The Oregonian, those animals included bamboo sharks, sea horses, garden eels, and fish. The aquarium’s own “death log” indicates that the animals were repeatedly denied the minimum care required under Oregon law.

The aquarium’s former veterinarian, Dr. Mike Corcoran, stated, “I feel those animals were subject to undue pain and suffering to save money.” According to the news report, when Corcoran would see an animal during his weekly visit who had obviously been suffering for days and would ask why he hadn’t been called sooner, employees would tell him that the aquarium didn’t want to pay the additional expense. Corcoran quit his work with the aquarium based on animal welfare concerns, and a marine biologist there soon followed suit. The listed causes of deaths also relate to being in high temperatures, being in a power failure, being partially eaten, and getting caught in a drain screen.

“Ammon and Vince Covino have proved that they either cannot or will not provide minimal care to the animals they’ve built a business around,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Criminal charges should be filed against the Covino brothers for these animals’ deaths, and this despicable death trap should be shut down.”

In February, Ammon Covino was arrested in Boise, Idaho, on charges of conspiracy and unlawful purchase of marine animals. The indictment alleges that he also tried to buy lemon sharks for the Portland Aquarium illegally. In addition, the city of Austin, Texas, has issued Covino two notices of code violations for having sharks, iguanas, and lizards at the site of the brothers’ planned Austin Aquarium without proper documentation.

For more information, please visit

PETA’s letter to the Oregon Humane Society follows.

August 22, 2013

Sharon Harmon, Executive Director
Oregon Humane Society


19 pages via fax: 503-285-0838

Re: Portland Aquarium Investigation

Dear Ms. Harmon:

I am writing on behalf of PETA to thank you for investigating the Portland Aquarium and to request, with all due respect, that your office pursue criminal charges against all culpable individuals—including the owners of the aquarium, Ammon and Vince Covino—for violations of Oregon’s anti-cruelty statutes for the reported deaths of hundreds of animals at the Portland Aquarium in just three months.

Most if not all of these deaths appear to have been easily preventable, and the evidence indicates that animals—including sick and suffering animals—were routinely denied proper veterinary care. As detailed in the appendix that follows, animals at the Portland Aquarium have been denied “minimum care” in blatant disregard of Oregon’s anti-cruelty statute, O.R.S. § 167.330, meaning that they died as a result of animal neglect in the first degree, a Class A misdemeanor.

In addition to pursuing criminal charges, PETA further requests that your office take immediate action to halt any and all ongoing violations of Oregon’s anti-cruelty law at the aquarium; that if any person during your investigation is discovered violating the anti-cruelty laws, O.R.S. §§ 167.315-167.340, he or she be arrested pursuant to O.R.S. § 133.377; and that your office pursue forfeiture of any animal subjected to cruelty upon conviction pursuant to O.R.S. § 167.350.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Very truly yours,

Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.