Grassroots group protests SeaQuest aquarium opening at Woodbridge Center Mall

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WOODBRIDGE – With the expectation of a SeaQuest aquarium coming soon to Woodbridge Center Mall, a group of animal rights activists are holding what have been dubbed friendly protests outside the mall in a grassroots effort to stop its opening.

In February, the SeaQuest Woodbridge aquarium announced construction would begin in the spring and is scheduled to open in the fall.

“We are out here to make it a point we don’t want SeaQuest Woodbridge to open,” Denise Morgan, of Sayreville, said. “The animals don’t belong in a tank, they belong in the ocean.”

Morgan organized the event during which protestors held signs supporting their concerns – “Captivity Kills,” “Aquariums are Prisons” and “Animals are not ours to use for entertainment.”

The first protest was held on July 28. Another protest was held on Aug. 11. Subsequent protests will be held on Aug. 18 and at least three times in September, Morgan said, as long as the participants can get their message across.

The protestors cited SeaQuest’s alleged history of mistreatment of animals and unsatisfactory conditions in their Las Vegas. Littleton, Colo., Folsom, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas, locations, and provided literature to motorists and people passing by.

A request for comment from SeaQuest, which has locations in Utah, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, California, Minnesota, Connecticut, Virginia and Florida, were not returned before press time.

In a message on the company’s website, Vince Covino, chief executive officer of SeaQuest, said SeaQuest was born out of a vision of sharing the beauty of wildlife – in oceans, jungles, forests and deserts – the average person normally would not get to see.

SeaQuest Woodbridge, which will be the company’s first location in New Jersey, will take its guests on an adventure through rain forests, deserts and the depths of the seas with exhibits and activities for families and children of all ages, according to the website.

Visitors will be able to get wet with the stingrays, feed birds and reptiles, encounter caimans, marvel at sharks, and take selfies with snakes, according to its website.