From Green Right Now Reports

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has dived into a controversy over the Austin Aquarium, warning city officials that the owners of the marine facility, still under construction, lost several animals to accidents and infections at an aquarium they own in Portland.

Aquarium Fish Small“In just three months at the Portland Aquarium, more than 200 animals have reportedly lost their lives. Bamboo sharks, sea horses, stingrays, garden eels, and many species of fish have died from starvation, infections, a power outage, attacks by incompatible tank mates, getting caught in drain screens, being hit by falling rocks, escaping from their tanks, and unknown causes. A marine biologist at the facility stated that it was ‘cutting corners to save money’,” wrote PETA’s Michelle Kretzer in a story posted today on the PETA website. Many of the deaths, the article contended, could have been prevented.

The Oregonian brought to light the story about problems at the Portland Aquarium, reporting that the 200+ animals died from starvation and other preventable causes between February 18 and May 16. During that time, the aquarium was without an in-house veterinarian, even though it was housing 10,000 animals.

The vet reportedly left his job over concerns about animal welfare. The newspaper based its stories on the “death logs” provided by a former employee and interviews with the veterinarian, who was concerned that animals were not receiving adequate medical care.

The Oregon Humane Society has been investigating.

Vince Covino, who owns the aquarium with his brother Ammon, has denied the scope of the problem, telling The Oregonian that the death logs made public are inaccurate and that the team running the Portland Aquarium ensures “our animals have the best health-care possible”.

On Aug. 24, managers posted this statement on the Facebook pages for the Portland and Austin aquariums:

“We are very concerned about the recent allegations against the Portland Aquarium. The health of our marine animals is taken very seriously at our facility. Right now we are taking some time to review the situation and we will have no further comments to the press until our review is complete.”

The Covinos’ first aquarium was in Boise, Idaho. They opened the Portland Aquarium in 2012 and began construction of the Austin Aquarium in Northwest Austin at 13530 N Highway 183 this year. Due to open in late 2013, it would be the first public aquarium for the city.

KEYE reported in early August that the Covinos lacked all the required city permits for the construction at their site, including those that would be required to house animals at the site, a former furniture store.

Hearing about the various difficulties at the Portland and Austin facilities, PETA officials became concerned that the partially installed aquarium already housed several animals — such as sharks, iguanas and possibly a crocodile — and asked Austin Animal Services to investigate.

The city has reported that the facility has since complied with its request to keep the animals out of the site until the new aquarium is up to code.