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Less Than Month After Opening, Stingray Dies at SeaQuest Folsom

FOLSOM (CBS13) — Following a controversial opening, concerns are mounting again after an animal was found dead inside of Folsom's new SeaQuest aquarium.

"It should have been employees monitoring the pool, it shouldn't take someone to tell them 'Hi there's a dead animal your pool,'" said SeaQuest visitor Lester Burns.

The aquarium opened less than a month ago, following months of protests and opposition. Pictures show the sad scene inside Seaquest Folsom's 'touch tank' over the weekend.

"We noticed it was kind of halfway buried under the sand," said Burns.

Kids are seen hovering around a pool full of sea creatures, including a dead stingray, lying lifeless at the bottom.

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"Not only is like the stingray in a decomposing state, but the kids are still touching it. That also puts the kids at health risks, too," Burns said.

Burns is a reptile lover who says some snakes and lizards at the Aquarium appeared to be in danger too, not living in the right habitat.

In a Facebook post from November 30th, a woman claims she saw a starfish with its leg ripped off and in the water, as well as unmonitored children touching animals.

"It's just negligence," said Burns.

Two days before Thanksgiving, the aquarium's opening day, was met with protests by PETA and other animal rights advocates.

SeaQuest also operates aquariums in five other states and has a history of complaints, with past employees alleging animal neglect and abuse

But some families say their experience was a pleasant one. Genevieve Davalos, 8,  aid, "I loved it. My favorite part was the stingrays."

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"Everybody was helpful, they actually had knowledge about what they were talking about," said father Rocco Davalos.

But people like Burns say a dead animal found less than a month into operation is a big cause for concern.

"Just get your act together.  It's not about the money, it's about the animals," Burns said.

SeaQuest officials confirmed the death of the stingray and sent a statement Tuesday saying in part:

"SeaQuest has rescued hundreds of animals some of which come with veterinary needs. These animals have regular vet checkups and are cared for by an educated well-seasoned animal husbandry staff."

City officials say the aquarium is in compliance with local zoning rules and appears to have passed state inspections.

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