FOLSOM (CBS13) – An animal rights activist group is protesting the opening of a new interactive aquarium in Folsom, pushing for more scrutiny about its operations.

About two dozen protesters chanted along East Bidwell Street Tuesday morning, in front of where the new SeaQuest aquarium is located. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organized the protest.

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PETA claims former SeaQuest employees have come forward with allegations of neglect and abuse – including several instances where hundreds of animals died at two locations from starvation, infection or other preventable causes.

“And even in Colorado there was a cease and desist order by the Department of Agriculture,” said protester Ellie Nguyen.

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Vince Covino, the owner of SeaQuest, says those reports are false and at least one was filed by a former disgruntled worker who was fired years ago.

He says he takes pride in his operation and its educational and interactive curriculum that builds awareness about endangered species.

“I don’t think that most of the people that are out there protesting have been in to see what we’re teaching about sharks getting decimated, about the vulnerabilities of animals that are going extinct,” Covino said.

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Covino says SeaQuest aquariums provide a way for children to learn about mistreatment of animals and abuse around the world.