Idaho Aquarium director defends against accusations of mismanagement

Idaho Aquarium director defends against accusations of mismanagement

Idaho Aquarium director defends against accusations of mismanagement

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by KTVB

kvue.com

Posted on September 10, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 10 at 10:39 AM

BOISE -- There is another controversial development with the Idaho Aquarium.

In February, when two of the Idaho Aquarium's directors, Ammon Covino and Chris Conk, were arrested, and  were accused of buying illegally obtained wildlife and shipping it to Idaho.

Now, there are accusations of gross mismanagement against the board and the new director, Amanda Davison, but Davison says those accusations have no merit.

A former employee of the Idaho Aquarium, who wanted to remain anonymous told us that the Aquarium, "makes a lot of money and the money doesn't go back to the animals, or back to education, or back to conservation. It goes right into the pockets of the people who run the place."

They say the non-profit is being run improperly and unethically, and other former and current employees we talked to echoed those accusations. They claim funds meant for the animals were pocketed by former director Chris Conk, and they say Davison is unqualified, and only got the job because of a relationship with Conk.

Davison, who believes she knows who these accusations are coming from, points out that the former employee was fired and says is just disgruntled. "She's out to hurt us."

Davison says donations go to the animals and goes on to say that an $11,000 bonus was given to Conk, but that it was back pay for doing the work of two directors, since Covino left earlier this year. She also defends her appointment, saying that she's just friends with Conk, has worked or volunteered there since day one, and it was a board decision to make her director. "It was decided by the board that it's a temporary position until we do a global search to see if there's somebody more qualified."

The former employee claims management is cutting corners to save money, and the animals are suffering. They provided KTVB with a death log from the aquarium, that they say has dozens of missing entries as the Aquarium tries to cover-up neglect. "The animals are not taken care of the way they should be."

Davison says that log is stolen and that the former employee is distorting the truth, "Unfortunately, sometimes animals die, due to certain circumstances, but we do everything here to prevent it."

According to Davison, the Aquarium is just trying to move forward. "It's just sad they're trying to wreck something that we're trying to do that's great for the community."

While critics say managers are just trying to line their pockets, "With these people running it, it's just a scam."

These accusations of mismanagement have shown up on the Aquarium's Twitter and Facebook pages, as posts from the Aquarium, but managers say they were hacked, and former and current employees say they're just posting their opinions.

The same owners were working to open an aquarium in Austin. Since the owners are under investigation in Oregon for deaths of animals at the Portland Aquarium, the City of Austin has asked the men to remove all animals from the aquarium for the time being.

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