Aquarium Controversy Continues

Co-owner of controversial Austin Aquarium heading to prison

Co-owner of controversial Austin Aquarium heading to prison

Portland Aquarium shark
Controversy continues to swirl around the Austin Aquarium.

KVUE — A member of the family that owns the Austin Aquarium will spend some time in prison. It's the latest legal problem for the Covino family.

Court paperwork shows that Ammon Covino, who owns the Austin Aquarium with his brother Vince, admitted to illegally shipping protected sharks and rays from Florida to an aquarium he operated in Idaho.

Monday a federal judge in Florida sentenced 40-year-old Ammon to a year in prison and barred Covino from working in a wildlife exhibit for two years.

The family has faced some controversy in recent months surrounding their Austin facility on Highway 183. Protesters rallied against the aquarium in August after PETA and the Humane Society of Oregon began investigating the brothers' Oregon aquarium. The organizations say 200 animals died in that location.

The family denies the allegations, saying that number includes small animals used as feed for larger fish.

In September, owners gave the public a sneak peek of what the aquarium has to offer. The 22,000-square-foot facility will be home to more than 3,000 creatures from sharks to starfish. 


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