MILWAUKIE, Ore. -- Protesters staged a rally outside the Portland Aquarium Sunday afternoon, after the facility has been under fire since two former employees released a so-called death log to KGW's news partner the Oregonian.
The log showed more than 200 animals died over a three-month period inside the aquarium. The Oregon Humane Society is now investigating those deaths.
"The Portland Aquarium is basically a for-profit roadside zoo masquerading as an educational facility," said Eric Phelps with In defense of animals.
"I had deaths in my aquarium and I'm not going to try and say one death was worse than another. We take every death seriously and try to make the best life for our animals," said Portland Aquarium director Shane Ditze.
Many of the animals died from the stress of being transported, according the Ditze.
"Some fish bought from Asian suppliers were in pretty bad shape and we are now looking at different options to get our cold water animals," he said.
Children are encouraged to touch many of the sea creatures. Protesters believe that puts stress on the animals and introduces germs.
"My employees here really love the animals and care for the animals to say we don't and are purposely mistreating them, it hurts," said Ditze.
Complicating matters, Ammon Covino, one of the aquarium's owners, was indicted for purchasing marine life illegally in Florida and shipping it without a permit to another aquarium they own in Boise.
"Now if they take proper care of the animals, I would support this place in a heartbeat, but I don't think they will," said protester Jennifer Brownlee who has started a Facebook page against the Portland Aquarium.
"Everyone is entitled to their opinion, I just ask that people come take a look for themselves, you'll see that my staff members love the animals," said Ditze