The new Austin Aquarium is still months away from ever opening, but it's already being protested by local marine wildlife lovers.
In the wake of reports of a horrific death log at the new Austin Aquarium owners' similar facility in Portland — which were detailed in CultureMap earlier this week — a Boycott the Austin Aquarium Facebook page has materialized and it's picked up more than 500 supporters in a few days. The boycotters describe themselves as "a group of local residents concerned about the welfare and treatment of the fish and animals at the Austin Aquarium and the method by which they were obtained."
When contacted by CultureMap, the Facebook page's creator said she needed to stay "anonymous."
The Austin Aquarium is promoting itself as the "Aquarium of the Future" and season passes are already being sold.
It's easy to see what's spurred the boycott's sudden surge in popularity though. The Oregon Humane Society is investigating reports of more than 200 animal deaths in a three-month period earlier this year at Vince and Ammon Covino's Portland Aquarium. The brothers are behind the new Austin Aquarium being built at 13530 N. US 183 in the former Lack's Furniture store space.
And they insist the new aquarium will open by the end of this year as planned. The Austin Aquarium is promoting itself as the "Aquarium of the Future" and season passes are already being sold.
"We're on track," Vince Covino tells KXAN. "Everything is going just as planned."
Recent history at the Portland Aquarium might suggest otherwise.
The animal death log — first leaked to The Oregonian newspaper — includes instances of death by starvation, infection, incorrect water temperatures and animal-on-animal attacks. The Portland Aquarium has been open for just nine months. The 200-plus animal deaths occurred between Feb. 18 and May 16.
The Covinos may find a more organized animal-defending community in Austin, one that's already reacting to those stats.
"As many local Austinites are, it's important to be conscientious of where our money, time and energy goes," a post on the Boycott the Austin Aquarium page reads. "This community was set up to spread the word that the Austin Aquarium is a for-profit establishment."