What YOU Need to Know about the Austin Aquarium

Home / Our Campaigns / What YOU Need to Know about the Austin Aquarium
  1. The Aquarium is a for profit venture. They do not rescue/rehabilitate aquatic life. They are not a sanctuary, nonprofit, or museum.
  2. The Austin Aquarium is not accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, whose standards ensure public trust by distinguishing between professional zoos/aquariums and unsafe and cruel “roadside zoos.”
  3. The Austin Aquarium is owned/operated by the unethical Covino family. Ammon Covino has a criminal record involving the illegal trafficking of sea life:
    • In 2013, Ammo Covino pleaded guilty in a Florida Federal Court and was convicted of conspiracy to illegally obtain sea animals from the wild in Florida. He was sentenced to a year in prison with two years of supervised release. A term of his release was that he not be involved in exhibiting, importing, exporting, etc. any fish or wildlife.
    • In 2016, Ammo Covino violated the terms of his supervised release from federal prison by buying and selling marine life. He was arrested in Austin, TX for procurement/selling/possessing marine life while on supervised release. He was ordered back to federal prison by a judge in March 2016.
  4. Former employees have publicly expressed concerns about animal safety at Covino’s aquariums. In 2013, a former employee released a death log to the press detailing more than 200 animal deaths (in a span of three months) at an aquarium run by the Covino family in the Milwaukee-area. Another employee told the press that staff were instructed to change the water in the octopuses’ tanks less frequently than recommended to save money, which resulted in the premature death of one octopus and several other animals.

Family-Friendly Alternatives

  • Visit the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary, where previously abused and neglected exotic animals live out the remainder of their days in peace.
  • Attend Austin’s own Circus Chickendog, featuring trained rescue dogs, juggling, unicycling, accordion and trombone music.
  • Human-only circuses, like Cirque du Soleil, visit Austin and Cedar Park. Did you know that Austin has at least two circus performance groups of its own? Sky Candy Austin and Blue Lapis Light perform aerial dance and can even teach you (or your kids) how to fly through the air on a trapeze.
  • Schedule a visit and/or volunteer day at the Society for Animal Rescue and Adoption (SARA) in Sequin, TX. Interact with burros, pigs, horses, cows, dogs, and many other rescued animals. Contact Tracy Frank at: (830) 401-0280.

What Can You Do?