July 29, 2011

Pilot Whale at SeaWorld Doing Great

Looks like SeaWorld's new rescue and rehabilitation facility is being put to great use already! Here is SeaWorld's statement on how 301 is doing:

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Vice President of Veterinary Services, Dr. Chris Dold, checks in on pilot whale 301 with SeaWorld animal care specialist Lori xx at SeaWorld Orlando’s new Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility. The 2-year-old, once-stranded, female whale is eating well and swimming around the pool – both great indicators of her progress and easy transition to her new surroundings.

"When will Waterwork come back?"

Normally the articles we post deal with strictly news and updates about SeaWorld, but after seeing so many tweets by our followers and my personal interest in this topic, I took the time to write an editorial. I'd love to hear your suggestions.

SeaWorld has been known for the education, interaction, entertainment, and care of marine mammals, and considered one of the best marine mammal parks in the world. After the incident with Tilikum, the killer whale, back in February 2010, as many of us know, some major changes in the park has changed, most noticeably, the "waterwork" aspect with killer whales. Waterwork is the interaction between killer whale and a trainer in the water. The killer whale trainers at SeaWorld Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego have not fully entered the water with the whales since this time, and left many guests wondering, "When will the trainers go back in the water?"

First off, working with killer whales in the water takes a large amount of time; for new trainers, they spend 2-4 years interacting with the whales prior to entering the water. The process is slow, yet gradual before the trainers start performing many of the high flying behaviors one would see in the show.

Second off, the trainers cannot instantly jump into the water now after over a year of staying out. Right now, SeaWorld states that the trainers are working with the whales in the medical pool (this pool includes a false bottom that can be raised to a higher level as needed) to start having the whale accustomed to being in the water with the trainers again.

One issue that may prevent One Ocean to include waterwork for some time is the building of a false bottom in the main stage area. This process will take quite a bit of time, as we have seen with how much time construction on Dine with Shamu has taken. If the Entertainment Department decides to hold off on waterwork performances, it could be up to two years before we see those behaviors integrated into the show.

So, what does this all mean? Will it be tomorrow, or will it be in 2 years? Honestly, no one can put an exact date on when this will happen. With the One Ocean show originally designed with the trainers out of the water, the trainers must then go through rehearsals with the whales and the show director, the corporate side of SeaWorld, specifically zoological operations, the entertainment department, and the CEO, must together decide if waterwork to resume. My prediction is within the next year, either late 2011, or early 2012. Once the Dine with Shamu pool is open with the new false bottoms (it looks like it will be open late August), the trainers can safely work on the amazing behaviors that we all love. Hopefully then, we will all see waterworks back to the way it was.

July 23, 2011

Summer Nights 2011 at SeaWorld

SeaWorld Orlando's lineup of nighttime festivities are truly something you cannot miss! SeaWorld's Summer Nights is a special event the will run through August 14th. Here are some of my insider tips after spending a few nights at the park:

-Make sure to try to have two nights to spend at SeaWorld Summer Nights! There's so much to do, it is quite difficult to cram it all into one night!

-Sea Lions Tonight is beyond funny, and The Mime from the daytime show returns, not only during the preshow, but makes several cameos in the show!

-Shamu Rocks will get the headbanger buried inside you and make you get up and cheer for all that Shamu and Crew has in store! The two best spots to be in the show is center higher up for the Eruption guitar solo; the second being next to the fountains! SeaWorld integrated the fountains made for One Ocean into the new show, so be sure to get SOAKED!!!

-After you had your Shamu Soaking for the night, this is where the two nights come in handy: SeaWorld set up Summer Nights perfectly so you have at least one hour between the end of Shamu Rocks and the park's firework spectacle, Reflections (and the park's closing). If you want a late night rush, head over to Manta, Kraken, and Journey to Atlantis across the park, or if you want to relax and enjoy the night wwith some great music and entertainment, check out Summer Nights Central, located next to Bayside Stadium!

-There's two ways to experience Reflections, now with music from One Ocean! You can get a seat at Bayside Stadium where they do a great preshow as well! You can also check it out from The Waterfront, a good idea if you decide to ride the rides or check out the animals sleeping ;-)

And for the summer, SeaWorld has a new ticket called "Summer Nights After 3PM Ticket!" for only $49.99! Head over to SeaWorldParks.com for more info! And if you have any other tips, make sure to tweet us @SWONation, at twitter.com/swonation

Stranded Pilot Whale Now in SeaWorld Orlando’s Care

Early Saturday morning, SeaWorld Orlando’s animal experts and rescue team transported a young pilot whale to the park’s new Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility. The 9-foot, nearly 600-pound whale was being cared for in Key Largo, Fla., by SeaWorld staff and other volunteers after it and 20 other pilot whales beached themselves in the lower Keys in early May.

The National Marine Fisheries Service and other animal experts considered the two-year-old female whale to be a “dependent calf” that could not be returned to the wild and was in dire need of extensive hands-on treatment. For the five-hour trip to Orlando, the whale was carefully placed in a stretcher and then into a large, water-filled transport unit in a cooled truck. The whale was continually monitored by park animal experts and chief veterinarian, Dr. Chris Dold, during the trip. According to Dold, “It’s still too early to tell her long-term prognosis, but she traveled well, she’s getting settled into her new surroundings, and we’re cautiously optimistic about her future.”

This pilot whale calf is the first resident of SeaWorld's new, 40,000-gallon rehabilitation pool, a facility designed specifically to rehabilitate whales and dolphins rescued from the wild. At the facility, the park’s animal experts will monitor the whale round the clock, performing physical examinations and additional testing. SeaWorld’s goal is to have her join the company’s other pilot whales in the near term.