Humane Society Investigates Ore. Aquarium Over Excessive Deaths

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The Oregon Humane Society is investigating the Portland Aquarium following an alarming number of reported deaths. More than 200 animals died at the aquarium this spring, from a range of causes including starvation, infection, high temperatures, animal-on-animal attacks and other unknown issues, according to The Oregonian.

In a log covering Feb. 18 to May 16, the aquarium reported animal deaths almost every day, accounting for about 200 deaths over the three months. The figure equals 2 percent of the facility's 10,000 animals dead in three months. Another facility, the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport has a mortality rate of "significantly less than 1 percent" annually, for comparison.

The aquarium says during that time, there were no regular veterinary services available. But a former vet for the facility says that even when he was under contract there, the aquarium gave its animals inadequate care.

Mike Corcoran, an exotic animals veterinarian who left the aquarium in February, visited the facility weekly. He said that on many of these occasions, he encountered animals who clearly had been suffering for several days. He said that when he asked staff why emergency care was not ordered, they told him the aquarium didn't want to pay for extra care.

"I feel those animals were subject to undue pain and suffering to save money," Corcoran said. He claims that his repeatedly recommended requests for new procedures were ignored, and has called the deaths at the aquarium excessive.

Caroline Emch-Wei, a marine biologist who used to work at the aquarium, said that while loss is normal, much of the loss at the Portland Aquarium was preventable. "They were cutting corners to save money," she said. Emch-Wei finally quit because of the arrest of the aquarium's owner, Ammon Covino, for illegally obtaining eagle rays and lemon sharks for his first aquarium in Boise, Idaho.

Ammon Covino and his brother, Vince Covino, opened their Boise aquarium in 2011, and the Portland facility in December. Aquariums are typically not as strictly regulated as other animal-exhibiting facilities, and like many other aquariums, those that the Covino brothers run operate without marine aquarium licenses, inspections or accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Neither of the Covino brothers holds a degree in marine biology.

In an email to The Oregonian, Vince Covino said the Portland Aquarium's mortality rate was consistent with other aquariums. Covino added, "We spare no expense in ensuring our animals have the best health care possible."


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As a volunteer diver 3 years ago at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago I witnessed how poorly they treated their animals. They spent $300,000 of Donor money to collect Fish in the Caribbean and then got them to the She'd to kill them all because their water pumps were set incorrectly.
This Aquarium staff is cult like and tries to cover all the problems up.

August 20 2013 at 10:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ooooops. Place on ice and send to nearest seafood market

August 20 2013 at 9:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For the record. They named this the "Portland" Aquarium but it was in a very grungy part of Clackamas Oregon. Not Portland. We went there and turned around because it looked like an old restaurant. It should have never opened in the first place. I am so very very sad about the loss of all those animals..

August 20 2013 at 8:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to vistjezebeliv's comment

It WAS an old restaurant.

August 21 2013 at 12:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with japxray shut them down and take their asses to court for animal cruelty

August 20 2013 at 8:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Imagine what we could accomplish if people got this bent out of shape about hunger and poverty.

August 20 2013 at 8:46 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mrkite129's comment

The animals cant help themselves. People can get a job, get assistance, make an effort, but most choose not to.

August 20 2013 at 10:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

SHUT THEM DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

August 20 2013 at 8:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Lowery

This is tragic, and is an example of where I believe the punishment should fit the crime. Subject the owners to the exact same treatment and when they complain or die say, ""We spare no expense in ensuring our animals have the best health care possible."

August 20 2013 at 8:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Typical lies to cover their asses as usual

August 20 2013 at 7:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Normie Baby

Odd that something like this could happen in a public facility in the People's Republic of Oregon. After all, it is well known that all of Oregon's residents are deeply caring, open minded, empathetic human beings. Perhaps, the aquarium has bee taken over by evil Republican conservatives.

August 20 2013 at 7:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Normie Baby's comment

now I understand why the sushi restaurant next door was doing so good.

August 20 2013 at 7:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
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