My family and I were hosted by SeaWorld San Diego with a trip to the park, however all opinions expressed here are my own.
Last Saturday, my family and I had the opportunity to visit SeaWorld, a place I grew up loving to go to, however, hadn’t been to in the last 6 years.
My family and I live right here in Southern California, so why hadn’t we come in all those years to visit SeaWorld then? Well, before I get into our whole recent SeaWorld experience, let me first address ‘the elephant in the room,’ or in this case, ‘the whale in the room.’
Like so many of you out there, my family and I stopped going to SeaWorld because we were horrified and saddened by the documentary, ‘Blackfish,’ and I even wrote a blog about it after I watched the documentary that you can readHERE.
If you just read my blog that I wrote 4 years ago about ‘Blackfish,’ and its claims on SeaWorld, then you know there were several issues that upset me, the biggest one being that of Mother Orcas being separated from their calfs. I will address these issues I had with SeaWorld to my readers and then also disclose to you my most recent findings from visiting the park.
Also, I will not be addressing every single issue that came up in the documentary ‘Blackfish,’ so I may not cover something that was in the documentary that may have specifically upset you. Therefore I encourage ALL of my readers to visit ‘The Truth About Blackfish,’ from the SeaWorld Cares website. It is at this link that you will find SeaWorld’s answers to all of your questions that may have come up as a result of watching, ‘Blackfish.’
I will return to ‘Blackfish,’ in a bit, however, I wanted to touch base on one very important fact about SeaWorld and that is that they are responsible for rescuing over 17,000 animals. I personally had the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at SeaWorld to visit their Vet facilities, their food kitchen for all the animals, their private nursery area for mothers and their babies, as well as see some animals, which were going through rehabilitation before being sent back out into the ocean. I was extremely impressed with their rescue and conservation facilities and even more so impressed by their staff. The vets, the trainers, and just the overall staff in general had one big thing in common, and that was how much they loved the animals they were caring for at SeaWorld and how very proud they were to be working there.
Before being a place of entertainment, SeaWorld maintains that their biggest mission is that of the rescue and conservation of animals, as well as the educating of the general public about the importance of taking care of them and their habitats that they live in. After speaking with several of the staff members, I believe SeaWorld’s mission to be true.
The staff was not only extremely knowledgeable, but they were also very passionate about their work and their relationships with the animals. As a matter of fact, a member of their staff, Kelly, who we had an extensive conversation with about the film ‘Blackfish,’ was visibly and emotionally choked up about the film, which she believes truly lied about SeaWorld and all of the caring people who have dedicated their lives to loving these animals. She said she was literally sick to her stomach after watching that film because it attacked, exploited, and villainized the very people who took such great pride in their work in helping to protect these animals.
Kelly, like so many of their staff members, has worked at SeaWorld for many, many years. Seeing her talk about her extensive interaction with the animals throughout all of her years there, it wasn’t difficult to see her sincerity and pride for what she does and where she works. That seemed to be the running theme with every staff member I spoke with at SeaWorld. They were just so in love with the animals and were so very proud to be part of the SeaWorld family and all of its positive works.
However, with this said, I still had tough questions to ask Kelly and she was very open and easy to talk with in regards to them. Of course, my first question I asked her about had to do with the separation of Orca mothers with their calfs and I specifically asked her about the example from ‘Blackfish,’ and this is what she had to say about that.
She said that the calf was not removed from her mother when she was a baby. She said that by the time the younger whale was relocated, she was already full grown and had a calf of her own, in which she was relocated with her own calf. She said that SeaWorld always tries to keep whale pods (families) together and that they had a 3 generation family of whales in the park currently. She said the only time SeaWorld may separate family members is if one of them is being behaviorally disruptive to the point that it is disrupting the whales’ social structures. Other than that, Orca families are kept together. Kelly also said that the whale cry we hear in ‘Blackfish,’ is not even that of a whale at all and that animal experts will tell you that whales don’t make that specific sound that we all heard in the film ‘Blackfish.’ Therefore, the film itself “falsely” depicted the calf/mother separation, and apparently that cry from the mother whale was dubbed into the film and is not even a sound of a whale at all.
SeaWorld says that ‘Blackfish’ is not a documentary, but really just Propaganda. Once again, I encourage ALL of my readers to read ‘The Truth About Blackfish,’ from the SeaWorld Cares website.
Another important fact is that SeaWorld does NOT collect whales. They haven’t collected in 40 years and even back then when they did so, it was following Federal laws and they had Federal permits to do so. Instead, SeaWorld has had a successful Breeding Program, which has now come to an end as well because SeaWorld has listened to the sentiment of the public asking them to no longer breed Orcas into captivity.
In addition, the public has also asked to end the whale performances as well. As a result, SeaWorld has also adjusted this too, and is currently transitioning into a more educational program about their whales that will focus more so on conservation and less on theatrics. I am personally very excited to hear about all of these exciting and positive changes coming to Sea World and I’m very pleased to now tell you all about The New SeaWorld!
First you must check out All Day Orca Play with SeaWorld San Diego’s Killer Whales! It just launched last week and will be running for nine weeks only. Guests will have unprecedented access to the earth’s most majestic creatures at All Day Orca Play, a full day of events and activities delivering encounters with killer whales. This new all-day, everyday experience will include introducing guests to each whale and their unique personalities; live chats with orca behaviorists and educators; an in-depth look at SeaWorld’s killer whale family and their behaviorists; and comprehensive insider knowledge about the park’s killer whales.
Then, this summer, SeaWorld San Diego will be debuting their all-new, inspiring Orca EncounterTM. It will be based on killer whale behavior in the wild—how they move, hunt and navigate, what they eat, and even how they communicate! This new encounter will be a live documentary-style presentation helping park guests gain a deeper appreciation and respect for the orcas, and empowering them to preserve the future of these majestic animals.
Also, each presentation or encounter will underscore the vital connection we all share as protectors of the planet and how we each play a key role in the future health and vitality of the wildlife and wild places. A new Pacific Northwest-themed backdrop at SeaWorld’s main orca pool will reflect the natural world of killer whales. To further promote the understanding of whale behaviors in the wild, a large infinity video screen will augment the backdrop displaying imagery of orcas in the wild as well as orca graphics and information about the whales. Orca Encounter will provide the whales with a much larger swimming habitat that will reflect their natural world environment. And although these are the last generation of Killer Whales to SeaWorld, there will be Orcas there still for years to come. As a matter of fact their last baby whale will be born at SeaWorld Antonio and the proud Mother Orca is Takara!
Here are some fun seasonal events and festivals to look forward to at Sea World as well.
APRIL—Foodies and craft beer aficionados are going to love the SeaWorld Seven Seas Craft Beer & Food Festival, featuring more than 100 craft beer selections, over a dozen wine choices and more than 50 food samples representing the Caribbean, Europe, the Pacific Islands, Asia and more. Seven Seas takes place Saturdays and Sundays in April.
FOURTH OF JULY—SeaWorld will present a 20-minute fireworks show synchronized to patriotic music on the Fourth of July.
HALLOWEEN—During SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular® (Sept. 23–Oct. 29), kids can show up in costume and enjoy a Halloween-themed sea lion and otter show, Clyde & Seamore’s Big Halloween Bash, plus colorful costume characters and trick-or-treating among a sea-inspired atmosphere.
WINTER— Nov. 18, 2017–Jan. 1, 2018 SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration® is back with Santa, sea lions and snow! Guests can grab hot cocoa and experience Santa’s Christmas Village, the return of Rudolph’s Christmastown and fun holiday-themed shows. Families also can enjoy the nightly lighting of the 40-foot animated tree and more, all under the glow of SeaWorld’s 320-foot Skytower Christmas Tree of Lights.
In addition to all of these exciting changes that are happening at SeaWorld, I think it’s also important to emphasize again all of the wonderful things that they have always been doing there and will continue to do that expand even outside of their parks. For instance, SeaWorld’s conservation, animal rescue and research efforts include the following:
• SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program
• Unparalleled access for scientific research
• Eliminating the use of plastic bags in the park’s gift shops
• Continuing to advance water conservation
• Elimination of polystyrene foam products
• Recycling efforts
• Oiled Wildlife Care Center
• Providing award-winning education programs that include structured teaching
• Partnership with world-renowned marine artist and conservationist Guy Harvey focused on ocean health and the plight of sharks in the wild
• The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, a registered, non-profit foundation that has granted $14 million in support of projects around the world!
So I can proudly say that my family and I will be returning to SeaWorld again feeling guilt free as I was not only thoroughly impressed by all of their positive and exciting changes, but I was also impressed by all of the wonderful rescue and conservation efforts in which they have always been doing. Plus, I loved seeing the sincere passion that each staff member I met had for the animals that are under their care. You can’t fake that kind of emotion, love, and pride that I saw come from their staff. They love all the animals of SeaWorld and they love what they do there.
So my final assessment is that The New SeaWorld is a MUST-SEE! My family and I will be back again soon. Check out how much fun we had there this weekend!
Promotion: SeaWorld single-day tickets are starting at $55 right now but the best way to enjoy SeaWorld is with a 2017 Fun Card where you pay $87 and come back again and again.