ABC News Probe Uncovers Visitor Incidents, Citations, And Staff Concerns At Boise Aquarium Firm

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A Boise-based aquarium company, associated with the family formerly linked to Idaho Aquarium, came under scrutiny earlier this year following an investigative report aired on Good Morning America.

ABC News, along with various affiliates nationwide, delved into concerns surrounding SeaQuest, a for-profit company headquartered in Boise, boasting seven interactive aquarium locations across shopping malls nationwide. Owned by Vince Covino, who previously co-founded the nonprofit Idaho Aquarium with his brother Ammon Covino in 2010.

While operating the nonprofit, the Covino brothers faced allegations of animal abuse both locally and nationally. However, they no longer manage Idaho Aquarium, now rebranded as Aquarium of Boise.

ABC’s investigation unveiled incidents of visitor injuries, citations from government agencies, and internal concerns about animal welfare at SeaQuest. Notably, visitors were harmed by animals in interactive exhibits, leading to citations over potential disease exposure and inadequate animal care.

Despite numerous instances of visitor injuries since SeaQuest’s inception in 2016, the company continued to promote animal interactions, prompting safety and welfare concerns. Internal communications revealed lapses in animal care, with instances of injured and deceased animals documented by employees.

Though SeaQuest does not have a location in Boise, the Covino family’s association with animal welfare issues isn’t new to the area. Following controversies surrounding Idaho Aquarium, including legal troubles and poor management practices, the facility rebranded as Aquarium of Boise. However, challenges persisted, with concerns raised over structural damage to the facility.

The Covino saga extends beyond Idaho, with issues at other aquariums under their management, including animal deaths and citations. Despite attempts at rebranding and relocation, controversies surrounding animal welfare persist within the Covino family’s ventures.