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Seaworld logo.svg
SloganWhere worlds connect.[1]
LocationSan Diego, CA, San Antonio, TX, Orlando, Florida
OwnerSeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
OpenedMarch 21, 1964 (1964-03-21)
Operating seasonYear-round
WebsiteOfficial website
Animals: Orcas, Bottlenose Dolphins, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, False Killer Whales, Belugas, Sea Lions, Otters, Sharks, Rays, Fish, Lorikeets, Walruses, Alligators, Polar Bears, Penguins, Flamingos, and Sea Turtles[2]
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Seaworld logo.svg
SloganWhere worlds connect.[1]
LocationSan Diego, CA, San Antonio, TX, Orlando, Florida
OwnerSeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
OpenedMarch 21, 1964 (1964-03-21)
Operating seasonYear-round
WebsiteOfficial website
Animals: Orcas, Bottlenose Dolphins, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, False Killer Whales, Belugas, Sea Lions, Otters, Sharks, Rays, Fish, Lorikeets, Walruses, Alligators, Polar Bears, Penguins, Flamingos, and Sea Turtles[2]

SeaWorld is a United States chain of marine mammal parks, oceanariums, and animal theme parks owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The parks feature captive orca, sea lion, and dolphin shows and zoological displays featuring various other marine animals. There are operations in Orlando, Florida, San Diego, California, San Antonio, Texas, and previously Aurora, Ohio. On March 5, 2007, SeaWorld Orlando announced addition of the Aquatica water park to its adventure park family, which already includes SeaWorld and Discovery Cove.[3] On February 28, 2008, Busch Entertainment announced plans to open a fourth SeaWorld park in Dubai, UAE,[4] but these plans have been shelved for now due to the international credit freeze.[5]

SeaWorld parks also feature a variety of thrill rides, including roller coasters like Kraken and Manta at SeaWorld Orlando and Steel Eel and The Great White at SeaWorld San Antonio. Journey to Atlantis, a combination roller coaster and splashdown ride, can be found at all three US parks. The parks were owned by Busch Entertainment Corp., the family entertainment division of Anheuser-Busch, which is best known for brewing beer. In November, 2009, Busch Entertainment was sold to the Blackstone Group and subsequently renamed SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

One of the biggest attractions is the Shark Encounter, in which guests are carried through a submerged acrylic tube into the sharks' tank. Another famous ride is Wild Arctic, simulating a helicopter ride to the Arctic. After the ride, the guests arrive at a simulated base station, where they can observe polar bears, Pacific walruses, and beluga whales. During the Christmas holiday season, SeaWorld Orlando's Wild Arctic is transformed into the Polar Express Experience which offers the park's guests the opportunity to ride the Polar Express to the North Pole and meet Santa Claus in addition to the polar bears, Pacific walruses, and beluga whales that are at the Wild Arctic exhibit year round. Another attraction is the Penguin Encounter, showcasing a variety of penguins. In addition, an attraction features endangered Florida manatees. The park has an extensive playground for children, named Shamu’s Happy Harbor, formerly known as Cap'n Kids World.[6] (Although SeaWorld San Diego has Sesame Street Bay of Play which showcases Sesame Street characters.)

SeaWorld recently created the non-profit SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. Sea World is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, meaning they have met and exceeded the standards in Education, Conservation and Research.[vague]



Kasatka, one of SeaWorld San Diego's nine killer whales, performs during a routine Shamu Adventure show.
Trainer "surfing" on top of Katina, a killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando.
Marble, Porter, Jensen, Starbuck, Baretta, and Clyde performing in Blue Horizons at SeaWorld Orlando.

Milton C. Shedd, Ken Norris, David Demott, and George Millay brought SeaWorld to life, yet that was not the initial idea. The four graduates of UCLA originally set out to build an underwater restaurant and marine life show.[7] When the underwater restaurant concept was deemed unfeasible, they scrapped those plans and decided to build a park instead, and SeaWorld San Diego was opened on March 21, 1964.[8] With only a few dolphins, sea lions, 6 attractions and 22 acres (89,000 m2), the park proved to be a success and more than 400,000 guests visited in the first 12 months.

After considering other locations in the midwest, including the Lake Milton/Newton Falls area west of Youngstown, Ohio, it was decided that Aurora, Ohio would be the new home of a SeaWorld. The Aurora site was approximately 15 miles (24 km) northwest of the Lake Milton site, and 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Cleveland.[9] By this time the founders of the company had captured a few more species of animals including a killer whale that would call the new facility home. The Ohio site would prove to be difficult to maintain. The harsh winter climate permitted the park to be open only from mid-May until mid-September. However, the vast population of the Midwest and Northeastern states lived within a day's drive of the park, which would eventually add to the success of SeaWorld of Ohio.

The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida opened near the end of the second operating season of SeaWorld of Ohio. The success of Disney in Orlando provided another ideal spot to capitalize on the mass number of tourists that would make their way to central Florida for vacations. Since opening day in 1973, SeaWorld Orlando has thrived in a place known as 'the theme park mecca of the world'.

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. (HBJ) purchased the company in 1976 and 12 years later they ventured deep into the heart of Texas. In 1988, SeaWorld San Antonio opened just a few miles outside of San Antonio.[10] Growth has pushed the city outwards, and now SeaWorld San Antonio lies in the Westover Hills community in West San Antonio. The park was open year-round like its sister parks in California and Florida in 1988 and 1989, then went to a seasonal schedule. The stress and financial resources it took to build and maintain a state-of-the-art marine mammal facility in the late '80s eventually took its toll on the company. HBJ, whose primary focus was producing school books, needed to reduce its assets in order to avoid a bankruptcy.

The Anheuser-Busch Company made an offer to purchase the SeaWorld parks. However, HBJ also owned and operated two other parks, Cypress Gardens and Boardwalk and Baseball, and out of fear of not being able to find a buyer for the two other parks, HBJ refused to sell the parks individually. Despite a long negotiation, Anheuser-Busch bought all six parks in 1989: SeaWorld in San Diego, Aurora, Orlando and San Antonio as well as Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven and Boardwalk and Baseball in Haines City. Soon after the sale was final, Busch sold Cypress Gardens to the park's management and closed Boardwalk and Baseball.[11] Anheuser-Busch put millions of dollars back into the parks to revive and to prolong their longevity.


One of the Southwest aircraft painted with a Shamu livery

Southwest Airlines has three Boeing 737 aircraft painted to look like Shamu[12] as an advertisement for SeaWorld.


SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego, the first SeaWorld park, opened on March 21, 1964. The park features shows such as One Ocean, the current Shamu show and Sea Lions Live, a comedic show with sea lions and otters. Rides include Journey to Atlantis, a splashdown ride that also has characteristics of a roller coaster. The Summer Nights program changes some shows and adds others. One show featuring Shamu is available during the night called Shamu Rocks, a rock concert choreographed to the killer whales, and then the fireworks show Into the Blue, which uses music from the newest dolphin show Blue Horizons.[13]

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando opened on December 15, 1973, and had crowds topping 5,300 on its opening day.[14] One Ocean, a new Shamu show which premiered April 22, 2011, is hosted here, along with Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island, an adventure with two sea lions, and Blue Horizons, the park's dolphin show. The park contains three roller coasters: Kraken, a floorless coaster based on the mythical sea creature, Manta, a coaster designed to simulate how manta rays move, and the Shamu Express, a coaster oriented to kids located in Shamu's Happy Harbor. It is also home to the original Journey to Atlantis Water Coaster. SeaWorld After Dark is SeaWorld Orlando's night program, featuring the fireworks show Reflections, a sea lions show Sea Lions Tonite and Shamu show Shamu Rocks.[15]

SeaWorld San Antonio

SeaWorld San Antonio opened on May 27, 1988.[10] Its formal opening over Memorial Day Weekend 1988 held about 75,000 people.[16] 3.3 million people visited SeaWorld San Antonio during its first year, 10% more than what was originally projected.[17] The park shows One Ocean, the new Shamu show; Azul, a one-of-a-kind show combining diving, synchronized swimming, dolphins and beluga whales; and The Cannery Row Caper, a sea lion show following the sea lions Clyde and Seamore solving a mystery. Parks rides include The Great White, an inverted roller coaster, Steel Eel, a roller coaster reaching a height of 150 feet,[18] and Journey to Atlantis, a water roller coaster into the mythical land of Atlantis.

SeaWorld Ohio sale, re-birth, and eventual transition

In February 2001, Anheuser-Busch sold the SeaWorld Ohio park to Six Flags, Inc., operators of neighboring "Six Flags Ohio" (Geauga Lake until the end of 1999, reverting to the "Geauga Lake" name in 2004). Upon completion of the sale, the two parks were combined in spring 2001 as the so-called "mega-park" "Six Flags Worlds Of Adventure", which boasted its "Three parks in one" uniqueness: a waterpark, an amusement park, and a wildlife animal park - all included in one price of admission. Sea World executives replied that their park had been sold because of the short season of the animal park, because of Northeastern Ohio's cold winter months, and also because they were not able to get the rights to build roller coasters like the other Sea World properties had been able to.

In March 2004, Six Flags, Inc., announced that it had sold "Six Flags Worlds of Adventure" to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, the operators of the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Cedar Fair took the park back to its original "Geauga Lake" name, which had a history dating back to 1888. Since the Six Flags company retained ownership of the animals, the majority of the animal portion of the park, including all of the exhibits and animal stadiums, was either emptied or fenced off for the 2004 season.

After a nearly season-long wait, the Cedar Fair company announced its plans for the non-operational side of the former Sea World Ohio/Six Flags Worlds of Adventure-Wildlife Side. That entire portion of the land would become an immense waterpark, named "Wildwater Kingdom", opening in two phases, with the first phase in 2005, followed by the second phase in 2006. This decision marked the end of the marine-life park permanently.

All of the animal stadiums and buildings were next torn down or converted into other venues. Some of the SeaWorld property remained intact, albeit hidden or modified. What remained included the former seal and sea lion area, the Ski Stadium (to be used in a Lumberjack show in 2006), the Aquarium (to be used for unknown purposes), and two movie theater houses/simulators, once housing 3D/4D movies. The Ski Stadium was removed in off-season 2008 to make way for "Coconut Cove", a refreshment station/observation area. All of these, except for Wildwater Kingdom, closed in 2007.

SeaWorld Dubai

Busch and UAE-based developer Nakheel had planned to together build a SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove and Aquatica water park on a man-made island in Dubai. The parks would be built on The Palm Jebel Ali, part of Dubai's ambitious "Palm Islands" complex. The first phase of the project was projected to open in 2012. The Worlds of Discovery resort on the Palm Jebel Ali would include hotels, spas, shops and restaurants. The project was put on hold in February 2009 however due to the global economic downturn, but may be resumed once the economic situation improves.[19]

Animals at SeaWorld

Takara demonstrating a breaching move during the Believe show at SeaWorld Orlando.

SeaWorld's main attraction is its killer whales, several of which are housed in 7-million-gallon habitats that are each known as Shamu Stadium. Shamu was the name of the first killer whale brought to SeaWorld San Diego in the 1960s from the Seattle Marine Aquarium. 'Shamu' is now used as a stage name for killer whales in performances at SeaWorld parks. The killer whales all have real names. Currently, Sea World houses 21 killer whales in its three parks.

Lists of other animals that can be found at each SeaWorld park can be found on each park's individual pages (SeaWorld San Diego, SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Antonio).


Captivity, treatment, and occupational hazard issues

Organizations such as the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society campaign against the captivity of dolphins and killer whales; SeaWorld, which holds most of the world's captive killer whales, is cited for its role.

Aggression in captivity is also not uncommon. In August 1989, a dominant female killer whale, Kandu V, tried to rake a newcomer killer whale, Corky II, with her mouth during a live show.[21][dead link] In February 2010, an experienced female trainer at Sea World Orlando was killed by killer whale Tilikum shortly after a lunchtime presentation in Shamu Stadium.[22][23]

SeaWorld's attempt to capture several killer whales in Puget Sound in the early 1970s using powerboats, airplanes and explosives to drive the animals resulted in the capture permit being revoked.[24][dead link][25] The animals are now obtained through breeding including artificial insemination, loans, and purchases from other marine parks around the world.

On May 31, 2012 Occupational Safety and Health Administration administrative law judge Ken Welsch cited SeaWorld for two violations in the death of Dawn Brancheau and fined the company a total of $12,000.[26]

Alleged drive hunt captures

In response to criticism leveled at SeaWorld and other marine parks by the award-winning documentary film The Cove which accuses them of obtaining dolphins obtained in drive hunts, SeaWorld spokesperson Fred Jacobs stated that, "We think we're being unfairly criticized for something we're opposed to."[27] He adds that, "SeaWorld opposes the dolphin hunts documented in The Cove. We do not purchase any animals from these hunts. More than 80 percent of the marine mammals in our care were born in our parks. We haven't collected a dolphin from the wild in decades."[28] Since 1993 there have been no permits issued to facilities in the United States to import dolphins acquired through drive hunt methods.[29] Marilee Menard, the executive director of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, has also stated that she believes that The Cove filmmakers are "misrepresenting that the majority of zoos and aquariums with dolphins around the world are taking these animals."[27]

Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program

Dolphins gesture language

The SeaWorld Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program has been rescuing animals for more than forty years.[30] They have worked with local, state, and federal agencies to rescue more than 18,000 animals and are active in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio.[30] That is about 450animals a year, or one to two individuals per day.[30] They work with more than one hundred environmental organizations, some of which include the National Wildlife Federation, World Wildlife Fund, and The Nature Conservancy.[31]

The program is dedicated to returning rehabilitated animals to the wild, and does so through a rescue, diagnosis, and treatment approach.[32] However, the program is part of an even bigger picture. It is an important part of SeaWorld'scommitment to research, education, and conservation.[32] Upon rescuing the animals, SeaWorld is able to learn more about them, specifically, about their biology and ecology.[32] Thereby, creating a cycle: once more information is known about marine mammals and birds, more can be done to better conserve them.[32]

Threats to the Animals

Humans have caused many problems for marine mammals and birds.[33] Threats to these animals include entanglement[disambiguation needed], harvesting, sea traffic, disease, climate change, and habitat destruction and environmental degradation.[33]

In 2003, research showed a decline in the Steller sea lion populations in Alaska.[33] Natural and human threats, including environmental changes, legal and illegal hunting, predation by orcas, competition with fishermen for food, and incidental catch in fisheries, were believed to be some of the contributing factors.[33] Continued research is imperative to better understand each of these factors and prevent their negative effects in the future.[33] Thus, a program created to aid distressedmarine mammals and birds, and use rescue opportunities to gain knowledge about their biology and ecology is vital.[32]

Animals Involved

Baby Sea Turtle

SeaWorld rescues a variety of animals ranging from sea turtles, birds, cetaceans, sea and river otters, pinnipeds, and manatees.[32] Cetacea is the order including whales, dolphins, and orcas, while pinnipeds refer to seals, sea lions, and walruses.[32]

Of the previous animals listed, manatees, sea turtles, and certain species of seals are on the endangered list.[34] The brown pelican, a specific species of bird SeaWorld often rescues, was recently removed from the endangered list.[34]


SeaWorld Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation teams are on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and respond in cases of natural disasters or events and for those animals injured or orphaned.[30] Upon arriving at the scene, the team assesses the situation before transporting the animal to SeaWorld's Animal Care facility.[32] In a case with pinnipeds, the assessment may take minutes or hours for rescuers to determine if the animalis actually in need of assistance.[32] Pinnipeds are then transported in cages designed to restrict the animal's movement to prevent injury, while dolphins and whales are placed in padded fiberglass transport units.[32] However, in some situations animals, typically birds, are brought to SeaWorld by citizens, and it is not necessary for the teams to make a rescue.[32]

Rescue Site Treatment

In certain situations, individuals may require onsite treatment.[32] Rescue teams may take vitals which include body temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate.[35] They also administer antibiotics to increase the animal's chance of survival.[35] Rescuers take blood samples to be immediately tested at a lab near the site.[35] For dolphins and whales, ointment is used to prevent sunburn and drying.[35] A large problem during rescues is overheating.[36] Water, ice, and wet sheets and towels are all used to prevent this from occurring.[36] It is also important for rescuers to keep water and sand out of the blowhole, nostrils, and eyes.[36]


When a rescued animal arrives at SeaWorld's Animal Care facility, veterinarians and staff are on hand to evaluate its condition.[32] Blood, stool, and urine analyses are typical protocol and are preformed for each individual. Additionally, in cases of injury, bacterial cultures are taken from the wound, as well as suturing and x-rays, if deemed necessary.[32] Each case is different and is specified to the needs of the animal.


The first form of treatment used by the Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program is nourishment.[32] Many of the stranded animals are severely dehydrated, and thirty to forty percent below a normal body weight.[32] Some of the animals are able to eat for themselves, while others have to be tube fed a liquid diet of essential nutrients.[32] Orphaned individuals still nursing receive formula similar to the milk composition they would receive in the wild, and may be adjusted according to the animal's needs.[32]

See also


  1. ^ SeaWorld Home
  2. ^ SeaWorld Animal List
  3. ^ Aquatica Press Release Kit, retrieved March 5, 2007.
  4. ^ C'mon in, Shamu: The Dubai water is fine, retrieved July 14, 2008,
  5. ^ No Busch Gardens, SeaWorld for Dubai, retrieved Feb. 4, 2009.
  6. ^ Ward, Tyler E. (June 5, 1992). "Kids can have a whale of a time". Ocala Star-Banner.,3280629&dq=cap-n+kids+world. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  7. ^ "Milton Shedd, 79, Co-Founder of SeaWorld". The New York Times. May 28, 2002. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
  8. ^ "Watch, Touch and Explore at Sea World". The Evening Independent. June 13, 1974.,3631628&dq=seaworld. Retrieved 2009-06-04.[dead link]
  9. ^ Markowitz, Jack (July 27, 1972). "Sea World: Whales in Blue-Collar Land". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.,3462252&dq=seaworld. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
  10. ^ a b "Sea World opens outside San Antonio". The Deseret News. June 5, 1988.,2019966. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
  11. ^ Bachelder, Maryemma (February 24, 1995). "A history of the gardens". The Ledger.,1542332. Retrieved 2009-06-04.[dead link]
  12. ^ - Example photo
  13. ^ "Preview calendar: Special events, theme parks and comedy for June 4–10". North County Times. June 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  14. ^ "Tourists". St. Petersburg Times. December 30, 1973.,2871560&dq=sea+world+orlando. Retrieved 2009-06-06.[dead link]
  15. ^ Bevil, Dewayne (May 21, 2009). "Weekend outlook: Star Wars Weekends, SeaWorld After Dark, 5th Dimension, Mr. Potato Head". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  16. ^ Hayes, Thomas C. (June 19, 1988). "Texas Picks Up the Pieces". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  17. ^ Hayes, Thomas C. (August 14, 1989). "Harcourt Near Sale of Sea World". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  18. ^ "Steel Eel, SeaWorld San Antonio". Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  19. ^ Beth Kassab for the Orlando Sentinel, No Busch Gardens, SeaWorld for Dubai, article retrieved February 5, 2009.
  20. ^ "Killer whale calf born at SeaWorld". 2010-01-08. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
  21. ^ A Whale Bleeds to Death at Sea World, Aggression towards tank members and trainers, page retrieved June 6, 2007.
  22. ^ "SeaWorld trainer killed by killer whale". CNN. February 25, 2010. Retrieved Feb.24,2010.
  23. ^ "1 Killed At SeaWorld". cfnews13. February 24, 2010.
  24. ^ Courtney S.Vail and Denise Risch (2006), Driven by demand, chapter International trade in drive hunt dolphins. Retrieved October 13, 2006
  25. ^ Eric de Place and Kathy Fletcher (2005), Increasing killer whale population is a sign we can save the Sound, article retrieved November 1, 2006.
  26. ^ accessdate=June 13, 2012}}
  27. ^ a b Mieszkowski, Katharine (7 August 2009), "Dolphins Are Dying to Amuse Us", Salon,, retrieved 7 June 2011
  28. ^ "The Cove's Shocking Discovery", The Oprah Winfrey Show, 22 April 2010,, retrieved 7 June 2011
  29. ^ Rose, Naomi A.; E.C.M. Parsons, and Richard Farinato (2009). "The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity". The Humane Society of the United States and the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  30. ^ a b c d group="SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment">"Rescue & Rehab: Lending a hand, leading the way". SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  31. ^ "SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment". Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r group="SeaWorld, Inc.">"Results of the Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program". SeaWorld, Inc.. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  33. ^ a b c d e U.S Commission on Ocean Policy (2003). An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.
  34. ^ a b Kurpis, Lauren. "". Retrieved 5 November 2012.
  35. ^ a b c d Dierauf, Leslie (1990). CRC Handbook of Marine Mammal Medicine: Health, Disease, and Rehabilitation. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Inc..
  36. ^ a b c Geraci, Joseph R.; V.J. Lounsbury (1993). "Marine Mammals Ashore: A Field Guide for Strandings". Texas A&M University Sea Grant College.

External links

Coordinates: 32°45′57″N 117°13′35″W / 32.7657°N 117.2263°W / 32.7657; -117.2263