I have visited the SeaWorld Orlando park many times. I have spent hours observing the whales and dolphins there, and I have made many observations. The whale and dolphin treatment review I am about to give to you is based out of my observations and research (that includes hearing from those who disagree with my opinion), not out of emotions or a couple of articles on the internet.
Like all marine facilities, SeaWorld does have their issues that they could improve. However, based off of my research and observations, I would consider them to be a responsible facility – possibly the best in the world. I know that there are many who would disagree, but I must ask whether or not you have been to SeaWorld simply to make observations and do research.
- Research: SeaWorld does a lot of research and study on the animals in their care, and this is very helpful for better understanding and learning more about how we can help protect animals in the wild. The friendly, trained whales and dolphins at SeaWorld provide scientists with the opportunity to safely study these amazing animals in ways that would be harmful to wild whales and dolphins. The data that scientists collect from SeaWorld whales and dolphins can then be used to understand wild whales and dolphins better.
- Feeding: SeaWorld feeds each of their animals the right amount for that individual, and food is never withheld from an animal that refused to perform in a show. The fish that SeaWorld feeds their whales and dolphins is restaurant-quality. Yes, dead, frozen fish does not have as much nutrition as live fish – however, because of this SeaWorld will give the whales vitamins in their fish to make up for the nutrition lost during the fish’s freezing process.
- The Behavior & Appearance of the Animals: Except for a few exceptions, every time I have visited SeaWorld Orlando, their animals appeared strong and healthy. At one point, the dolphin feeding program at the Dolphin Cove exhibit (a program where guests would buy handful of fish to feed to the dolphins) got out of hand, and several of the dolphins (particularly Jenever) became severely overweight – but SeaWorld showed how much they care once again by stopping the feeding program and changing it to a personal dolphin encounter where guests still get to feed the dolphins, but it is controlled. Jenever is now back to a healthy weight, and the uncontrolled feeding is still no longer taking place. Although some argue that the whales and dolphins at SeaWorld lifelessly float at the surface all day, I have always seen them swimming around, playing with each other and their toys, and engaging in sessions with trainers when possible. I have seen them float at the surface a few times before, but even this is still a natural behavior often displayed by wild whales and dolphins. The behavior is known as “logging,” and it is a way for a whale or dolphin to rest or sleep. I have seen the whales and dolphins at the SeaWorld Orlando park swimming in circles around their tank, but it only takes a little logical thinking to realize that this is natural to them. It is their instinct to swim, and because most of SeaWorld whales and dolphins have never seen the ocean, swimming in circles is all they’ve known. I will admit that I have seen a whale or dolphin act bored at SeaWorld once or twice, but every whale and dolphin, wild or captive, is going to have at least one boring moment in its life. Plus, trainers often notice when an animal is displaying behavior of boredom, and they often give the animal a toy to play with.
- Shows & Performances: SeaWorld tries to make their shows and performances fun for their animals, and they appear to be doing a good job of that. I often note the Bottlenose Dolphins and occasionally the Pilot Whales excitedly jumping out of the water on their way to do an asked behavior. This is not usually displayed by the Orcas, as they have so much body mass to lift out of the water when they jump that they must dive deep before racing up to the surface to jump to be able to get enough momentum to lift themselves out of the water. Shows and other performances are also great exercise for the whales and dolphins. In fact, if you’ve ever seen the One Ocean Killer Whale Show or the Blue Horizons dolphin show, you may have noticed that part of the show is the dolphins racing around the tank at top speed – great exercise for the whales and dolphins. You should also note that the animals at SeaWorld are not forced to perform. In fact, there have been a few rare occasions when a show was called off simply because the animals just didn’t feel like performing.
- Inspiration & Education: SeaWorld’s goal is to inspire people to have a better appreciation for the ocean and the life in it. When people see whales and dolphins up close in unique ways that would be illegal to do in the wild, they fall in love with them! After that, most people suddenly have a desire to want to protect whales and dolphins in the wild, and they begin doing whatever they can to do their part and help conserve the ocean. SeaWorld is also big on education, and they have educators stationed at every animal viewing to answer guests’ questions about the animals. They also advertise conservation throughout the park.
- Animal Rescue: There are many people who work on SeaWorld’s animal rescue team. These people have dedicated their lives to helping save animals in need! Sometimes they will stay up for hours at night tending to and monitoring a sick or injured animal that had been rescued. SeaWorld’s goal is to return the rescue animals back into the wild once they have recovered.Amazingly, the SeaWorld rescue team has given over 28,000 sick, injured, and orphaned animals a second chance at life!
- Whales & Dolphins Constantly Moving Around: One of the biggest issues I find with SeaWorld is how they are constantly moving whales and dolphins from park to park. This is concerning because whales and dolphins are very social animals that have strong family bonds, and it is likely hard for a whale or dolphin to move from one family to another and then to another.
- Ending Orca Breeding: Although some jumped for joy when SeaWorld announced that they would no longer be breeding Orcas, I found it concerning. Although it still remains uncertain what SeaWorld will do with a situation like the one I’m about to mention, there is potential that an Orca may end up suffering from this decision. Eventually, all the Orcas will die out, and there will be one last Orca that has yet to die – an old whale with no family. Yes, SeaWorld’s trainers would continue to interact with this whale, but at the same time Orcas need to be with other Orcas, just like people need to be with other people. Like us, they have strong social bonds and must be with other whales. It would not be reasonable to transport an older whale, and it seems as though the most humane thing to do would be to euthanize it, but it would be very unfortunate to have to prevent an Orca from living out its full life span like that. However, because we have not gotten to this point yet, it still remains unclear how SeaWorld will handle a situation such as this one.
Summary of SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld has its issues, and they have made some mistakes. But the good they do inspiring people, researching and rescuing far outweighs the issues and mistakes. SeaWorld is one of the most caring, high end facilities out there, and they even set the highest standard for marine mammal care. All in all, I would recomend SeaWorld Orlando as a responsible marine park that you are sure to enjoy visiting. You can learn more about how SeaWorld cares at one of their official websites, www.SeaWorldCares.com.