Colorado Parks and Wildlife has suspended the license of SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium in Littleton's Southwest Plaza, an attraction that's been in the crosshairs of regulators since it opened last June.
"Since that time, the facility has had numerous violation episodes and failed to adhere to several of the conditions of their state licensure," according to a Parks and Wildlife release announcing the April suspension.
The CPW, which regulates only a few of the species housed at Seaquest, doesn't elaborate on the nature of the current violations. However, last August the Colorado Department of Agriculture issued SeaQuest a cease-and-desist order after it failed a license inspection and didn't remove many of its birds.
SeaQuest declined to answer specific questions and instead sent Westword a statement: "SeaQuest Littleton lost the Regulated Animals license which impacted a few exhibits that didn't involve guest interaction," wrote Elsa MacDonald, VP of Marketing and PR for the aquarium. "Since this change took place, we have made some changes and are happy to welcome Peking ducks, Asian water monitors, and Savannah cats — all of which our guests can see, touch and feed today! This change will enhance the guest experience and truly provide an ultimate interactive experience."
Part of a chain that operates around the U.S., the aquarium promises visitors an interactive experience in which they are allowed to touch or feed the animals, which include fish, reptiles and aquatic animals, as well as mammals and birds. But a Denver7 investigation found that between June 2018 and January, there were more than thirty reported injuries at the aquarium, including a stingray barb piercing someone's hand, a shark biting a guest and an iguana jumping onto someone's chest and clawing at their mouth.
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Other SeaQuest locations are battling similar problems. The Las Vegas outpost's exotic-animal permit was revoked because "the aquarium possessed unpermitted otters and coatimundis," according to PETA. The animal-rights group and others are suing the City of Fort Lauderdale over a permit it issued allowing for a SeaQuest in that Florida city.
"Thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife authorities' intervention, sloths, capybaras, and other species are safe from SeaQuest in Littleton for the immediate future," says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet in a statement. "Every action that blocks SeaQuest from endangering animals and visitors helps move PETA one step closer to shutting this cruel, sleazy operation down."
As part of the suspension, SeaQuest cannot apply for or purchase a CPW license and is now in the process of relocating its CPW-regulated animals to other facilities. The aquarium plans to remain open.
This story has been updated with a statement from SeaQuest.