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Portland Aquarium Under Investigation

Pete Springer/OPB

Brothers Vince and Ammon Covino opened the Portland Aquarium, their second aquarium in two years, last December in a former Black Angus Steakhouse. In February, its contract veterinarian quit because of his concerns about the care of the animals, including delays in being notified when animals were ill. That month, Ammon Covino and Christopher Conk — both directors at the Covino’s Idaho Aquarium — were arrested and charged with illegally buying spotted eagle rays and lemon sharks. Last month, the Covino’s nephew was found guilty of attempting to destroy evidence in that case.

This week The Oregonian reported that between February and May, more than 200 fish, sharks, rays, clams, eels, and invertebrates died from causes ranging from congestive heart failure to starvation to being stuck to drains. The report was based on a “death log” (pdf) provided by a former aquarium employee. Vince Covino, in a statement, wrote, “[B]ased upon the numbers quoted in the Oregonian article, the death log submitted appears to be fabricated, or to be skewed by such deaths as dozens of snails, baby feeder fish, and others.”

The Oregon Humane Society has begun an investigation of the Aquarium. Ammon Covino reversed his not-guilty plea in the shark-buying case. He and his brother are in Austin, Texas, working on starting a third aquarium.

What questions do you have about this case?


  • Vince Covino: Owner of Portland Aquarium will discuss the allegations.
  • Jim Burke: Director of animal husbandry at Oregon Coast Aquarium will talk about how accreditation and operations work at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums certified Newport aquarium.
aquarium fish

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OPB | Broadcast: Aug. 22, 2013