Nearly 100 animals reported dead at local seaQuest; PETA urges families to stay away
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Nearly 100 animals reported dead at local seaQuest; PETA urges families to stay away

For immediate publication:
July 9, 2024

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Woodbridge, New Jersey

New Jersey state documents uncovered by PETA reveal that almost 100 animals in the past five years at seaQuest Woodbridge — including two Asian water lizards, a panther chameleon and two sloths. This year, government officials ordered the facility, located in the Woodbridge Center shopping mall, to cease all public interactions with regulated wildlife for 120 days after an outbreak of the highly contagious mycobacterial shell rot — an infection that most often indicates chronically dirty enclosures and poor water quality — in turtles led to the deaths of several of them.

According to records from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), inadequate care at seaQuest Woodbridge likely led to the deaths of multiple animals, including Bonnie and Cruise, Asian water lizards who developed symptoms of gout, a common cause of improper diet or chronic dehydration; Garnet, an emaciated panther chameleon; and Suzy, a 4-month-old sloth bear who, according to the USDA, was not receiving an adequate diet and died less than a month after arriving at the facility.

Bonnie and Cruise, a pair of Asian water lizards who died within two months of each other at seaQuest Woodbridge in 2023. Source: PETA

“Animals confined to this hellish mall zoo were starving and dying of rotting shells in damp, disease-ridden pools,” Michelle Sinnott, PETA’s director of captive animal enforcement. “PETA is calling on everyone to stay away from SeaQuest Woodbridge, which is unable or unwilling to provide even the most basic care to the defenseless animals it exploits.”

PETA filed a complaint with the USDA requesting further investigation into Suzy’s death, noting that it was a potential violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act. SeaQuest Woodbridge has not been punished for her death and has not yet faced any federal consequences.

As of 2021, the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife is sending seven warning letters to SeaQuest Woodbridge about violations and other problems at the facility. In September, state officials placed the facility on one-year probation, banning it from, among other things, acquiring regulated animals and introducing new public interactions because of ongoing violations of the New Jersey Exotic and Nongame Permit.

PETA — whose motto is, among other things, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” — emphasizes that every animal is someone and offers free Empathy Kits to people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, visit TETHER or follow the group on X, FacebookOr Instagram.