Protesters Push Back Against New SeaQuest in Folsom

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FOLSOM -- SeaQuest opened its doors at the Palladio in Folsom Tuesday morning.

"People can touch animals, feed them and really experience close up," said SeaQuest CEO Vince Covino.

It allows people of all ages the opportunity to interact with and even feed wildlife.

"They walk away with a love for the planet because they've made friends with the animals," Covino said.

While hundreds of kids were inside SeaQuest Tuesday enjoying the animals on opening day, just down the street it was a very different scene. Dozens of protesters were calling on the business to close.

Protesters say SeaQuest abuses its animals and they want the City of Folsom to shut it down.

"They're a harm to the animals. This is a joke," said Folsom resident Kip Baumann. "They shouldn't be allowed in Folsom. I don't know why Folsom residents allowed them to come here."

Activists say hundreds of animals have died at other SeaQuest locations in Portland and Las Vegas. They believe the for-profit business is not just dangerous for the animals but could be hazardous for the people who interact with them too.

"Our young kids are being subjected to possible bacterial infection and stuff like that," said protester Lauryn Goodspeed. "They don't require anybody to wash their hands before they interact or after they interact with animals."

But the company's CEO said many of the animals there are rescued and they have a large staff dedicated to making sure they're taken care of properly.

"They're constantly, three times a day, checking salinity, pH, nitrate levels," Covino told FOX40. "They're checking all of the parameters to have the perfect temperature and perfect environment for them to thrive. So they really have better conditions here than they do in the wild."

Covino said about 10,000 people have already visited the animal exhibit in the three days since their soft opening. SeaQuest is also giving victims of the Camp Fire free admission all month.

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