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ABC News Probe reveals visitor incidents, quotes and staff concerns at Boise Aquarium Firm

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

ABC News, along with several national affiliates, has delved into concerns surrounding SeaQuest, a for-profit company headquartered in Boise with seven interactive aquarium locations located in shopping centers across the country. Owned by Vince Covino, who founded the nonprofit Idaho Aquarium with his brother Ammon Covino in 2010.

While running the nonprofit, the Covino brothers faced allegations of animal cruelty both locally and nationally. However, they no longer manage Idaho Aquarium, now renamed Aquarium of Boise.

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

Despite numerous incidents of visitor injuries since SeaQuest was founded in 2016, the company continued to promote animal interaction, raising safety and welfare concerns. Internal communications revealed deficiencies in animal care, with cases of injured and deceased animals documented by employees.

Although SeaQuest does not have a location in Boise, the Covino family’s involvement in animal welfare issues is not new to the area. After controversy surrounding Idaho Aquarium, including legal problems and poor management practices, the facility was renamed Aquarium of Boise. However, problems persisted and concerns arose about structural damage to the facility.

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