AP: Idaho Humane Society Investigating Aquarium

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Three people complained about problems with the way animals were cared for at the two-year-old Idaho Aquarium in Boise last week, prompting the Idaho Humane Society to launch an investigation.

The Associated Press reported that veterinarian and Idaho Humane Society CEO Jeff Rosenthal announced the investigation on Monday. The aquarium's marine biologist Nate Hall said the facility has a 1 percent animal mortality rate, which he called average for aquariums.

Since the facility opened, it has been connected to a series of criminal cases involving two officials and their family members. Co-founder and former director Chris Conk pleaded guilty in 2011 to illegally smuggling coral. He and the current president, Ammon Covino, were both charged with conspiring to bring illegally harvested spotted rays and lemon sharks to Idaho.

One of the current complaint came from a former aquarium employee, Jordan McDermott-Roe, who refused to put an injured chameleon in a freezer to kill it, as his boss had asked. The employee said that when he wouldn’t, the boss did it himself.

“But the octopus was really the worst,” McDermott-Roe said. “That was by far the worst experience I ever had with an animal.”

He said the octopus, named Mortimer, died from toxicity after staffers were told to change its water less frequently than recommended to save money. But Hall performed the necropsy and concluded the water quality was normal.

The aquarium invited the Idaho Humane Society to tour the aquarium Sept. 12.

“I want to have a positive network with all our local, state and federal agencies,” Hall told the AP. “They’re just one more network to reach out to so that we’re not appearing that we’re hiding anything.”