Embattled Aquarium and Petting Zoo Chain Drops Doomed Bid to Set Up Shop; Groups Elated
For Immediate Release:
December 8, 2020
Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – In a major victory for animals, SeaQuest has just agreed to end its bid to open up shop in The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale mall. This decision was made as part of an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed in 2019 by PETA, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), and local resident Ana Campos. The suit alleged that the city of Fort Lauderdale unlawfully issued SeaQuest a development permit to open in the Galleria under the false pretense of being a “museum” rather than an aquarium (which is not allowed under city zoning laws).
While the litigation was pending, SeaQuest didn’t finish construction of the site, and in August, Keystone-Florida Property Holding Corporation, the company that owns the Galleria, filed a lawsuit to evict SeaQuest. That suit alleged that SeaQuest failed to pay contractors $218,000 for work on the site. The contractors filed liens against the property, and having liens filed against the property violated SeaQuest’s lease. After the landlord began the eviction process, additional liens were filed, bringing the amount that SeaQuest owes contractors to approximately $240,000.
At SeaQuest locations across the country, numerous animals have suffered and died, including a sloth named Flash and an otter named Jelly. Another sloth was severely burned by a heat lamp—twice—before modifications were made to prevent the animal from accessing the lamp, and former SeaQuest employees claim that birds were stepped on and killed, turtles were crushed by children, and an octopus was boiled to death in a tank.
“The champagne corks are popping at PETA and ARFF over the news that Fort Lauderdale will be a SeaQuest-free zone,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Michelle Sinnott. “Everywhere SeaQuest goes, dysfunction, controversy, and animal neglect follow—and PETA won’t rest until this shady business goes under.”
PETA, ARFF, and Ana Campos were represented in their lawsuit by the law firm Olive Judd.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.