The crime was in violation of the Lacey Act, a U.S. conservation law that prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, transported or sold. The aquarium itself, which opened in December 2011, is facing charges for the incident as well, says the Ocala Star Banner.
The aquarium itself also pleaded guilty, agreeing to pay a $10,000 fine and donate $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Federation. The aquarium itself will be formally sentenced Tuesday in Key West and could face additional fines.This is far from the first blot on the controversial aquarium's record, the Idaho Statesman reports. The Idaho Humane Society is currently investigating the aquarium on charges of animal mistreatment, and in September, several former employees came forward to talk about disturbing conditions, including missing death logs, unclean tank water, and an alleged episode in which Conk placed an injured chameleon in a freezer to kill it. And in April, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confiscated the aquarium's three remaining puffins because it didn't have the required federal migratory bird permit. Lastly, in September the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the aquarium a notice of alleged safety and health hazards for employees, including electrical issues, slipping and tripping hazards, and the use of inappropriate electrical gear in wet areas.