|Date opened||December 15, 2012|
|Date closed||February 16, 2016|
|Location||16323 SE McLoughlin, Oak Grove, Oregon, United States|
|Land area||2 acres (0.81 ha)|
|Floor space||12,500 sq ft (1,160 m2)|
|No. of species||2,500|
On December 17, 2015, the aquarium announced it was closing effective February 16, 2016, and said the animals will be distributed to other aquariums in its chain of private, for-profit aquariums. The company's press release also said it was looking for a new location in Portland. However, even the owners said any reopening was 24 to 36 months away, and no new location has been identified. Many of the animals in fact were sold to third parties.
The Portland Aquarium is a private, for-profit aquarium built with funding provided by an investment group. According to the owners, the for-profit model was chosen to allow the aquarium to be built quickly. The aquarium was constructed in a leased former steakhouse in Oak Grove. It was initially proposed to be called the "Oregon Aquarium."
The Portland Aquarium is a limited liability company whose current members are Crystal Covino, David Rowe and Shane Shimada. The founding owners, in 2012, were brothers Vince and Ammon Covino, and Marc Gottlieb of Boise, ID. Vince and Ammon Covino also were involved in starting the Idaho Aquarium in Boise and the Austin Aquarium in Texas. The Idaho Aquarium has since been taken over by a new director and new board members, in response to legal problems and controversies involving Ammon Covino and his co-founder, Chris Conk.
Portland Aquarium was not an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) or the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA); as of August 2013 it was "taking the steps necessary to become AZA and ZAA accredited."
The Portland Aquarium featured 30 exhibits displaying more than 2,500 species. Animals exhibited included sharks and stingrays, a jellyfish exhibit, a cold water tank with fish found off the Oregon Coast, and warm water tanks and tide pools with tropical fish. In addition to aquatic and marine exhibits, the aquarium included a rainforest room with animals like tree frogs and exotic birds. The Portland Aquarium was intended to be a "hands-on" educational experience that would provide ample opportunity to pet and feed aquarium animals. Most exhibits were geared toward children about age 10. The aquarium was located on a two-acre site that was zoned to permit the aquarium to build outdoor exhibits in the future. Proposed future exhibits included a 30,000-gallon shark tank and a seal exhibit.
One of the original co-owners of the Portland Aquarium, Ammon Covino, was arrested on Feb 21, 2013 in Boise, ID on charges of illegally harvesting marine animals. He later pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally obtain sharks and rays from the wild in Florida and was sentenced to a year and one day in prison. In October 2015, he was rearrested for allegedly violating terms of his two-years of supervised release by getting involved again in the family aquariums.
At least two senior employees of the Portland Aquarium, including a veterinarian, quit their jobs at the aquarium citing concerns about how the animals were being treated. Along with this, a former employee from the Portland aquarium showed to The Oregonian a death log of animals who had died in the aquarium from February 18 to May 16, 2013. The death log contained over 200 animals that died during that time, causing a lot of controversy and making the Oregon Humane Society launch an investigation to the aquarium. The aquarium has been subject to citizen protests at the site.
Portland Aquarium will close their operation on February 16, 2016 and search for a new location. Animals to be carefully rehomed in aquariums across the country. The building housing Portland Aquarium has been sold and is being demolished in early 2016. ... A date or area for a new location has not yet been determined, though owners are considering local malls as a viable target. All animals will be relocated to other aquariums across the country. ... Our next Portland location will at least twice this size, and in a more fitting destination area. We're excited about the future in Portland, though we will be more patient in finding the right location next time." A new location is being sought out due to size constraints of the current 12,000 square foot facility.
We are taking the steps necessary to become AZA and ZAA accredited. This is a long and difficult process but we are working on the requirements to apply for these associations. Not all aquariums are AZA members and many did not open as AZA members. It can take years before an aquarium can achieve the requirements.