Last week, the Galleria at Fort Lauderdale announced that it is partnering with a company called SeaQuest to open an aquarium at the shopping mall in late 2018. According to a press release, the new aquarium will feature “hands-on encounters” with sharks, stingrays, capybara, otters, tortoises, and exotic birds. (photo: an animal rights protest outside SeaQuest’s aquarium in Las Vegas in April 2017)
SeaQuest CEO Vince Covino, and his brother Ammon, have a long history of legal problems and controversies surrounding animal care.
- In April 2017 a former employee at SeaQuest Las Vegas came forward with disturbing reports about animals dying from neglect and mistreatment. The employee told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that at least 300 animals, including eels, stingrays and octopuses, died before the aquarium even opened. An aquarium operated by the brothers in Portland, Oregon also faced accusations of poor animal care and large numbers of animal deaths (the Portland Aquarium closed in 2016).
- In early 2017, Vince Corvino was fined $5,000 by the State of Idaho for failing to disclose his history of securities industry violations to potential investors in new SeaQuest aquariums (Covino’s registration as a securities broker-dealer was suspended in 2011).
- In December 2013, Ammon Covino was sentenced to one year in federal prison for conspiring to purchase protected species of rays and sharks illegally captured in the Florida Keys for display at an aquarium operated by the Covino brothers. Ammon Covino was sent back to prison in 2015 for violating the terms of his release after he was found to be involved in the opening of the SeaQuest aquariums in Nevada and Utah.
The majority of saltwater fish and invertebrates found in aquariums are captured in the wild because they are difficult to breed in captivity. The collection of large numbers of fish and other animals for the aquarium trade is harmful to the reef ecosystem.
The touch tanks and other ‘hands-on encounters’ planned for SeaQuest Fort Lauderdale put animals and people at risk. Touch tanks in which animals are unable to escape constant harassment from people can severly stress the animals. Bacteria introduced to touch tank water by human hands can be harmful to animals. (Children have also developed bacterial infections after handling animals in touch tanks.)
You Can Help
The Galleria mall is steps away from a state park and the Atlantic Ocean, and a short drive from the Everglades. Instead of exploiting captive animals for profit, the Galleria mall should be celebrating the unique natural areas in its own backyard, where animals can be observed in their natural habitats. Please contact the Galleria and urge them to reconsider the addition of an aquarium at the mall:
Mark Trouba, General Manager
The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale
Please send a copy of your email to the mall’s property manager, Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (JLL):
Kim Salvatori, Vice President, Leasing Representative
On April 16, Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission placed on the 2018 statewide ballot an amendment to phase out greyhound racing. The ballot question needs 60 percent of the vote to pass. If approved, dog racing in Florida would end by 2020.
The abuse and neglect of greyhounds is common at dog tracks in Florida. On average, a racing greyhound dies at a Florida dog track every three days! Many more are injured.
Stay tuned for more details on how you can help to build support for the ballot question to end this cruel industry! If you haven’t already done so, please join ARFF’s e-mail list.
Are you ready to vote in Florida? Use this link to register to vote, check your voter status, or to make changes to your existing registration: https://registertovoteflorida.gov
(Silver Springs, FL) — A new study of the potential dangers of wild monkeys living in Silver Springs State Park, and the resulting media coverage, was unnecessarily alarmist and overstated the dangers of herpes B virus transmission from monkeys to humans. That is the conclusion of a veterinarian with decades of experience working with primates, after reviewing the study.
“I do not agree that the Silver Springs rhesus macaques pose a serious threat to human health and safety,” said Nedim Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis, in a statement. “There was no need to alarm the public about the rhesus macaque situation and calls to eradicate the monkeys are misguided and irresponsible in my view.”
In his statement, Dr. Buyukmihci suggests that any effort to trap and remove the monkeys in the park may make the problem worse: “the stress of being hunted is likely to be counterproductive in that monkeys with latent infections may become infectious due to stress.”
(download Dr. Buyukmihci’s statement here)
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is calling on the Florida Park Service and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to halt any plans to use lethal methods to reduce the monkey population in Silver Springs State Park.
“The new study is an important reminder that the monkeys who live along the Silver River are wild animals, and like all wild animals, can be dangerous. But the study does not make the case for lethal control of the monkeys in Silver Springs State Park,” said Nick Atwood, ARFF Campaigns Coordinator. “The best way to protect the public from potential harm is to improve public education about the need to avoid interactions with monkeys in the park, and to strictly enforce rules against feeding or harassing monkeys.”
In October 2013, after two years of campaigning, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida celebrated when the Florida Park Service announced that it would no longer allow a trapper to remove wild monkeys from Silver Springs State Park for sale to laboratories. (Between 1998-2012, approx. 800 monkeys were trapped and removed.) At the time, the Florida Park Service said that it would explore alternative methods of reducing the monkey population at the park.
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On Sunday, November 19 a large crowd gathered outside the roadside zoo Monkey Jungle in Miami to demand a better life for the animals there.
For 28 years, “King” the gorilla has lived a cruel, solitary existence at Monkey Jungle. “Mei,” the only orangutan at Monkey Jungle, is confined to a barren, concrete enclosure when on exhibit (her off-exhibit cage is even worse). In a story that made headlines in early November, four former employees revealed that monkeys and birds at Monkey Jungle are also suffering from neglect and abuse. Photos taken by a former employee show filthy living conditions for the animals at Monkey Jungle (click here and here to read the Miami Herald’s reporting about the former employees allegations).
It is clear that Monkey Jungle is unable to provide the care that animals deserve.
In 1997, a campaign was launched to persuade Monkey Jungle to send King to Zoo Atlanta, where he could be with other gorillas. Zoo Atlanta has had success in rehabilitating previously solitary gorillas and transitioning them into a gorilla family. But despite Zoo Atlanta’s invitation and pleas from noted primatologist Jane Goodall, TV personality Bob Barker, and thousands of Florida residents, Monkey Jungle has refused. Gorillas and other apes are intelligent animals with complex social and emotional lives. Gorillas are best-off when they are in social situations. King needs companions and this continued solitary confinement is cruel and psychologically damaging. Read our previous post about King here.
You Can Help
You can help by asking Monkey Jungle to transfer King and Mei, at the very least, to a reputable sanctuary or zoo where they could receive proper care and live out the remainder of their lives with companionship and dignity. Write to:
Sharon DuMond, President
14805 Southwest 216th Street
Miami, FL 33170
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking for an immediate investigation of Monkey Jungle. ARFF believes that the conditions depicted in the photos violates federal Animal Welfare Act regulations. Please contact the USDA and ask that they investigate Monkey Jungle and ensure that it provides animals with adequate veterinary care, and that the animals there are housed in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. Urge the USDA to hold Monkey Jungle fully accountable for any violations discovered during its investigation.
United States Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(Daytona Beach) — An eye-catching mobile billboard in Daytona Beach will urge Shriners to replace animal circuses with alternative fundraisers.
The billboard, sponsored by the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), features an image of a circus elephant in chains and boldly declares “Animals don’t belong in the circus” and “Shriners, please end your support of cruel circuses.”
The billboard truck will circulate in Daytona Beach on Tuesday, July 11 from 11:00am until 7:00pm, the start of the Shriners parade along A1A.
The Imperial Session, the annual convention of Shriners International, will be held in Daytona Beach from July 9-13. More than 100 Shriners International temples (chapters) in the U.S. will sponsor circuses in 2017. Shrine temples partner with circuses that have poor records of animal abuse and neglect.
“There is growing awareness and concern about the treatment of elephants and other animals in the circus,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “Unfortunately, the Shrine Circus is resisting change and continues to support cruel circuses.”
Shriners have been associated with circuses for a long time, but change is possible. Several Shrine temples have replaced long-running circuses with equally profitable alternatives, such as golf tournaments, car shows, festivals, or animal-free circuses.
A photo of the mobile billboard is available upon request.
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