JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- Some families, who bought passes to an interactive wildlife exhibit at Southwest Plaza mall, are demanding their money back to no avail.
According to several prior customers who contacted FOX31, SeaQuest Aquariums isn`t offering refunds for annual memberships despite that organization being under an “open investigation” by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
Records show state animal-welfare inspectors failed SeaQuest’s aviary exhibit three times in a row, which ultimately led to a cease and desist order. SeaQuest remains open, under certain restrictions, and told FOX31 it has corrected all of its violations.
A number of customers have contacted the FOX31 Problem Solvers asking if they can get a refund, especially since SeaQuest’s most popular exhibit, a bird cage where customers can feed dozens of parakeets by hand, is either closed or under severe limitations to operate as advertised.
“I thought, man, I have a six and a seven-year-old! They`re going to go crazy for this. They`re going to love it,” Amy Shields told FOX31.
Shields bought an annual family membership to SeaQuest Colorado when it opened in June. She said the company used some “slick” marketing on social media to lure her into spending the $70.
However, Shields changed her mind about wanting to repeatedly visit SeaQuest after hearing bad reviews from other moms and watching a series of investigative reports by the FOX31 Problem Solvers.
Shields said, “When there is a cease and desist letter from the state saying, ‘Hey! Your animal exhibit isn’t compliant -- these animals have to go,’ I, as a parent? That doesn’t sound very safe and why are we going if one or more exhibits will be shut down?”
Not wanting to support an animal exhibit which keeps getting animal welfare violations, Shields (and other SeaQuest annual pass holders who contacted FOX31) said they request their money back.
“The reply was fairly succinct. That the refund policy was iron clad. No refunds would be offered,” said Shields.
She also told FOX31, SeaQuest wrote back telling her the media was slandering the company and there were no animal welfare issues.
When FOX31 asked SeaQuest CEO, Vince Covino, about refunds, he side-stepped the question.
Shields said she really hates to see that Covino gets to keep her $70, even though in her opinion, he's not living up to his end of the bargain.
SeaQuest's public relations troubles don’t appear to be over.
FOX31 has been notified a protest is being organized by animal rights activists and local SeaQuest customers.
There is also a Change.org petition circulating titled Shut down SeaQuest at the Southwest Plaza Mall which already has nearly 46,000 signatures.