The company slated to open an aquarium in northwest Austin is facing a Humane Society investigation in Portland, Ore.
Covino Aqua LLC has run into permit troubles trying to open the Austin Aquarium in an old furniture store off Highway 183 near Anderson Mill. According to the city, the company has not started the permit process. The aquarium is under construction and yearly memberships are available for purchase.
Covino operates aquariums in Boise, Idaho and Portland.
The Oregon Humane Society confirms the Portland Aquarium is under investigation for allegations of animal cruelty, but they could not comment further.
A former employee of the Portland Aquarium told an Oregon newspaper that hundreds of aquatic animals died there due to starvation, infection and high temperatures, among other causes. Covino maintains the allegations are false and come from a disgruntled former employee.
This is not the first time the company has been in trouble.
Federal agents raided their Idaho aquarium in February. Company owners were arrested on federal charges that they illegally purchased marine animals.
They said the legal problem was with their vendor, who did not have a license to catch and transport those animals. As for their permits here in Austin, the city’s Sylvia Arzola said the only permit Covino has applied for concerns signage.
Arzola also said the city does not monitor the treatment of the animals, pointing out that’s up to state and federal agencies.