New Aquarium Controversy

Owners of new Austin Aquarium linked to 200-plus animal deaths in Portland

Owners of new Austin Aquarium linked to 200 animal deaths in Portland

Portland Aquarium
The Portland Aquarium's owners plan to bring a new aquarium to Austin. But they'll also bring a reputation for animal deaths. Photo courtesy of Visit Portland
Vince Covino
Austin Aquarium owner Vince Covino finds himself under a harsh spotlight in Portland.  Courtesy of PR Web
Portland Aquarium
Vince Covino

A new Austin Aquarium already under construction is touting itself as the "Aquarium of the Future." But it's the owners past that is liable to raise a ton of questions and concerns.

More than 200 marine animals died at Vince and Ammon Covino's Portland Aquarium over a three-month period earlier this year, prompting an ongoing investigation from the Oregon Humane Society. The Covinos are attempting to open their third aquarium (they also have one in Boise, Idaho) in Austin at 13530 N. US 183 in the former Lack's Furniture store space.

The animal death log — 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 only nine months overall. The 200-plus animal deaths occurred between Feb. 18 and May 16.

 The animal death log includes instances of death by starvation, infection, incorrect water temperatures and animal-on-animal attacks.  

The Covinos' new aquarium in Austin is supposed to be much larger than their Portland Aquarium (22,000 square feet compared to 12,000 square feet) and include shark and ray tanks. They've already run into construction issues though — with city planners telling YNN that the proper permits weren't secured for the type of work being done.

Now, that seems like a minor problem compared to the animal death reports. Earlier this year, Ammon Covino was arrested in Boise on charges of illegally harvesting marine animals in a case that involves the alleged purchase of four eagle ray sharks and two lemon ray sharks without the permitting required for such transactions.

An employee at the Portland Aquarium tells CultureMap that Vince Covino lives in Austin. Covino has yet to return a CultureMap message seeking comment.