Portland Aquarium

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Portland Aquarium
Date opened December 15, 2012
Location 16323 SE McLoughlin, Oak Grove, Oregon, United States
Coordinates 45°24′18″N 122°37′26″W / 45.405°N 122.624°W / 45.405; -122.624Coordinates: 45°24′18″N 122°37′26″W / 45.405°N 122.624°W / 45.405; -122.624
Land area 2 acres (0.81 ha)
Floor space 12,500 sq ft (1,160 m2)[1]
Number of species 2,500
Website portlandaquarium.net

The Portland Aquarium is an 12,500-square-foot (1,160 m2) for-profit aquarium in Oak Grove, Oregon, United States that opened to the public on December 15, 2012.[2]


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."[3]

The Portland Aquarium is a limited liability company whose members are Crystal Covino, Marc Gottlieb, David Rowe and Vince Covino.[4] Vince Covino and his brother, Ammon, also were involved in starting the Idaho Aquarium in Boise and the Austin Aquarium in Texas.[5] 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.[6]

Portland Aquarium is not an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) or the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA); as of August 2013 it is "taking the steps necessary to become AZA and ZAA accredited."[7]


The Portland Aquarium features 30 exhibits displaying more than 2,500 species.[2] Animals exhibited include 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.[8] In addition to aquatic and marine exhibits, the aquarium includes a rainforest room with animals like tree frogs and exotic birds.[9] The Portland Aquarium is intended to be a “hands-on” educational experience that will provide ample opportunity to pet and feed aquarium animals. Most exhibits will be geared toward children about age 10.[3] The aquarium is located on a two-acre site that is zoned to permit the aquarium to build outdoor exhibits in the future.[8] Proposed future exhibits include a 30,000-gallon shark tank and a seal exhibit.[10]


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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14] The aquarium has been subject to citizen protests at the site.[15]


  1. ^ "Aquarium brings the ocean to town". PortlandTribune.com. Pamplin Media Group. November 20, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Culverwell, Wendy (November 29, 2012). "Portland Aquarium opens Dec. 15". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Harbarger, Molly (July 15, 2012). "Idaho brothers eye Clackamas County site for potential children's aquarium". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2012-08-28. 
  4. ^ Secretary of State, Oregon. "Business Name Search". egov.sos.state.or.us. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  5. ^ Drake, Sarah (June 6, 2013). "Portland, Boise aquarium owners bringing one to Austin". Austin Business Journal (Austin). Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  6. ^ Sewell, Cynthia (December 9, 2013). "Things are going swimmingly for Idaho Aquarium, at last". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  7. ^ "Public Statement". Portland Aquarium. August 30, 2013. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 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. 
  8. ^ a b Harbarger, Molly (August 14, 2012). "Oregon Aquarium bringing puffins, hands-on exhibits to SE McLoughlin site". The Oregonian. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  9. ^ Cheesman, Shannon (August 30, 2012). "Old Black Angus restaurant is being turned into an aquarium". KATU. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  10. ^ Vondersmith, Jason (December 6, 2012). "Brothers hope new aquarium lures families". Portland Tribune. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  11. ^ Edwards, Victoria (February 21, 2013). "Portland Aquarium co-owner accused of illegally harvesting marine animals for Boise facility". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2013-03-01. 
  12. ^ "Portland Aquarium co-founder gets prison term in Florida for illegal marine animal shipments". The Oregonian. Associated Press. December 2, 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  13. ^ Edwards, Victoria (August 27, 2013). "Portland Aquarium logs 200 marine animal deaths; Humane Society investigates". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  14. ^ Kretzer, Michelle (September 25, 2013). "Update: Hundreds of Animals Die at the Portland Aquarium—and Austin May Be Next". Retrieved 2014-10-11. 
  15. ^ Bamesberger, Michael (December 7, 2013). "Protesters say Portland Aquarium co-founder was 'caught red-handed'". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 23, 2014. 

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