SeaQuest hit with citations, violations from US Dept. of Agriculture, CT DEEP years before closure announcement
SeaQuest has announced it will be closing its Trumbull Mall location because of financial reasons. But over the years, the facility received a number of citations and violations.
A citation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says according to video and inspection, there was not enough distance and/or barriers between a wallaby during an encounter in May.
"Wild animals don't want to be poked and prodded by the public," says Rebecca Smudzinski, manager, Captive Animal Welfare for PETA.
That was not the first citation or violation for the facility.
In a 2022 letter from Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the facility was given notice that they had been stripped of its exhibitor status for multiple violations including:
- Incidents involving its wallabies dating back to 2019.
- Where a child was photographed hugging and kissing an albino wallaby.
- A wallaby either scratched or was close enough to cause harm in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
SeaQuest told News 12 Connecticut in part, "The video that was sent by an anonymous person to USDA showed the employee looking away for a matter of less than a single minute. This resulted in a citation. We believed that to be an extreme response, which we have appealed with the USDA."
"Animals are unpredictable and sometimes stuff happens," former SeaQuest employee Rachel Poplaski says.
The facility entered a memorandum of understanding and agreed to remove the kinkajous and a porcupine, which were also involved in incidents.
Poplaski began working at the facility in September 2022. She left in January.
"I didn't like the way the animals were taken care of," she says.
Poplaski claims the facility had cockroaches lining walls and signs, and that it failed to give adequate care to two eggbound iguanas.
"That's mostly caused from their environment not being correct, which was told to us by the SeaQuest vet, that we needed to raise the walls and keep the humidity in their enclosure...that was never done while I was there," says Poplaski
News 12 Connecticut is told one Iguana eventually died.
SeaQuest told News 12 Connecticut in part, "SeaQuest has licensed veterinarian supervision to ensure the well-being of all animals at SeaQuest."
Earlier this week SeaQuest announced it is closing the Trumbull location and moving all animals to other SeaQuest locations.
Officials with SeaQuest say the location was not financially viable and that it had considered closing it many times over the years.
The last day to visit SeaQuest in Trumbull is Aug. 20.