SeaWorld Public Relations
500 SeaWorld Drive
San Diego, CA 92109
SeaWorld's Commitment to Conservation and the Environment
Since first opening nearly 45 years ago, SeaWorld San Diego has allowed visitors to experience an incredible array of animals while learning unforgettable lessons about the importance of wildlife and habitat conservation, animal care, education and research. Along with its sister SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks, the San Diego marine-life park has been consistently recognized for its groundbreaking efforts to breed endangered species and promote conservation of wildlife and the environment. Together, the parks collaborate with international conservation organizations to protect at-risk animals and habitats in the U.S. and around the world. Here are just a few of SeaWorld’s recent accomplishments:
By the end of 2008, aviculturists at the park’s Penguin Encounter celebrated the arrival of 37 chicks, making the year’s penguin breeding seasons one of the most successful in the park’s history. The adorable, fluffy flock of babies included six gentoo penguins, seven macaroni, seven Magellanic and 17 Adélies. On July 14, 2008, the 72nd successful dolphin birth occurred at the park under the watchful eyes of SeaWorld’s dolphin trainers, animal care specialists and veterinarians. But, perhaps the most notable story, Cocoa, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, was born Nov. 28. This marked the fourth time animal reproductive researchers at the park were able to select the sex of a dolphin calf prior to conception through the use of artificial insemination technologies. The SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center is the only zoological organization in the world to have successfully applied preferential sex-selection reproductive research to exotic animals.
Endangered Species Preservation
SeaWorld San Diego is part of Team Clapper Rail, a group of more than 100 individuals and organizations that strive to help the critically-endangered light-footed clapper rail, a species that thrived in southern California marshlands until loss of habitat put it on the endangered species list. Since the program began in 2001, more than 200 clapper rails have been raised and then released into Southern California’s coastal salt marshes. SeaWorld participates by incubating some of the eggs and hand raising the chicks through a method called modified puppet rearing, which limits human contact, thereby preparing the chicks for eventual release to the wild. The annual light-footed clapper rail count has continued to show population growth and numbers are at a record high since counts were first initiated in the 1980s. Team Clapper Rail also includes the Chula Vista Nature Center, the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and independent wildlife biologists.
Also, the park continues to help another imperiled species by celebrating Sea Otter Awareness Week in the fall each year. The annual, weeklong campaign serves to educate the public about the integral role California sea otters play in the near-shore marine ecosystem, as well as the importance of protecting this species. The California sea otter is listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Threats include oil spills, entanglement in fishing nets and disease.
SeaWorld Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program
SeaWorld’s team of animal care experts returned more than 150 marine mammals and birds to the wild in 2008, including California sea lions, northern elephant seals, harbor seals, a Risso’s dolphin, a northern fur seal and a Guadalupe fur seal. More than 65 birds, including pelicans, gulls, ducks, great blue herons and snowy egrets were returned to the wild.
With an average 200 rescues per year, the animal rescue team routinely rehabilitates and returns approximately 65 percent of the animals to the wild. Since 1965, the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks have rescued more than 17,000 animals.
Reduce, Recycle and Re-use
Borne out of the park’s phenomenal recycling practices, SeaWorld implemented new and innovative ways to maintain nutritious diets for the park’s animal population while being mindful of effective re-use practices at the same time in 2008. The park’s manatees, for example, eat romaine lettuce that is recycled as part of the culinary department’s food prep process. Other examples include feeding beef-baron bones to the polar bears at Wild Arctic, and bread, fruits and lettuces to the domestic animals at “Pets Rule!”
Over the last two years, SeaWorld has hosted a total of six electronic recycling events. These free collection events allow California residents to get rid of unwanted electronic items — such as TVs, VCRs, cell phones, computers and monitors while helping out the environment at the same time. Proceeds from each event are donated to a conservation organization, which have included the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, the Chula Vista Nature Center and the San Diego Flyway Cities Coalition.
Every year, SeaWorld San Diego recycles more than 13 million pounds of manure, paper and plastic products, metals, greenery, pallets, cooking oil, construction demolition debris and batteries, in addition to more traditional recyclable materials. Since 1996, the park has received San Diego’s Recycler of the Year award 13 times and is a 12-time recipient of the prestigious State of California Waste Reduction Awards program.
To further its waste reduction success, SeaWorld encourages greater recycling on the part of its guests and employees as the park more than doubled the number of recycling bins in 2008 to more than 350.
In the summer of 2008, SeaWorld San Diego began testing plant-based dishware and cutlery in two employee cafeterias and the Deli at the park’s Seaport Marketplace. The forks, spoons and knives are made from vegetable starches. The plates and bowls are made from bagasse, a byproduct of extracting sugar from sugar cane that is often burned if not re-used.
Other cutting-edge conservation efforts at SeaWorld include the construction of a new eco-friendly Human Resources building. Materials with recycled content — including roofing, ceiling tile, drywall and carpet material — were used in construction of the building. Also, paints that contain low amounts of VOCs (Volatile Organic Chemicals, which have fewer toxins than conventional paints), a high-efficiency heating air-conditioned system and building light timers were implemented.
In addition, the park voluntarily implements programs recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as the most acceptable management techniques for handling storm-water runoff and natural resources. SeaWorld even has its own Green Team, which coordinates beach cleanups and other volunteer activities and is constantly working to enhance the park’s recycling programs and educate team members on environmental issues.
THE ADVENTURE GOES FAR BEYOND OUR PARKS
From Antarctica to the Arctic, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have contributed more than $25 million over the past four decades to efforts aimed at saving some of Earth's most endangered species, habitats and ecosystems. That commitment continues today. The following programs illustrate additional ways the parks extend their conservation commitment around the world:
SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund
The non-profit SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation supports critical wildlife conservation efforts in the U.S. and around the world. While launched in 2003, the Fund is just the most recent extension of the parks’ 40-year history of supporting wildlife conservation. Upon visiting SeaWorld, Busch Gardens or Discovery Cove, many guests are inspired to help protect the animals they encounter and get involved. The Fund, in part, was created to fulfill that desire.
Contributions from guests and the general public strengthen the parks’ existing efforts to protect endangered wildlife; expand conservation education around the globe; support worthy conservation and research organizations; and to aid ill, orphaned, injured or stranded animals. At many of the parks, guests can contribute by taking a special behind-the-scenes tour where a portion of the fee goes to the Fund. They also can contribute by purchasing select park merchandise where a percentage of the proceeds go to the Fund, or by visiting the organization’s Web site, www.swbg-conservationfund.org.
Since 2003, the non-profit SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has granted more than $5.5 million to more than 350 projects in the U.S. and 60 countries around the world. From restoring estuaries along the U.S. coast to saving sea turtles in Costa Rica, these solution-oriented projects allow the parks to share animal expertise, strengthen efforts to protect wildlife and reach millions of people with conservation success stories. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Fund directs 100 percent of the external donations it receives directly to wildlife conservation. Busch Entertainment Corporation — the parent company of SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove — covers all administrative expenses.
SeaWorld Oiled Wildlife Care Center (OWCC)
The SeaWorld OWCC is a collaborative operation run by the park’s mammal and bird departments, along with the statewide Oiled Wildlife Care Network. The center, which opened in 2000, serves as an example of a private and public partnership dedicated to environmental stewardship. When not used for oil spill response, the 8,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art complex houses ill or injured animals in SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program.
Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI)
Established in 1963, the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, a 501(c) (3) non-profit charitable organization dedicated to marine research and conservation, seeks to provide effective solutions to conflicts that arise between human activities and the natural world. Hubbs-SeaWorld scientists apply sophisticated technologies to challenges facing the marine environment, seeking to preserve healthy oceans for all organisms, including humans that rely on them. A long-time partner of SeaWorld, HSWRI provides scientific information that is invaluable to the development of appropriate environmental management decisions, conservation programs and the understanding and protection of our ocean resources. To learn more, visit HSWRI's Web site at www.hswri.org.
Worlds of Discovery, which are operated by Busch Entertainment Corporation, the family entertainment division of Anheuser-Busch InBev, work with and support conservation organizations around the world that share their vision and commitment. Partners include the following organizations:
National Wildlife Federation
The Worlds of Discovery parks are long-standing supporters of National Wildlife Federation's Backyard Wildlife Habitat program, designed to encourage homeowners across the U.S. to create wildlife-friendly backyards. The program aims to protect native fauna and flora by certifying habitats that meet the four basic wildlife survival needs: food, water, shelter and places to raise young. In addition to helping NWF reach out to homeowners and schools, the parks also have constructed demonstration habitats to teach guests how they can enjoy and protect wildlife at home. In 2008, the parks’ support of this program enabled NWF to achieve a significant milestone: 100,000 certified backyard wildlife habitats across the U.S.
The Nature Conservancy
The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund supports The Nature Conservancy's efforts to protect the Meso-American Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. The 400-plus mile reef supports some of the most diverse marine life including the world’s largest living fish, the whale shark. Today, the Meso-American Reef is threatened by unregulated tourism, over-fishing and development. With support from the Fund, The Nature Conservancy is working with local governments, scientists and citizens to build a marine reserves network to protect and preserve this critical habitat.
National Audubon Society
For more than a decade, SeaWorld has contributed to the success of a seabird conservation program off the coast of Maine, “Project Puffin.” Launched in 1973 by the National Audubon Society, the program has developed techniques to restore puffins and other seabirds to habitats once decimated by human activities. In addition to SeaWorld’s financial support, dozens of the parks’ dedicated aviculturists have lent their time, energy and expertise to help Audubon restore these historic nesting sites. Thanks to Project Puffin, there are now more puffins nesting in the Gulf of Maine than anytime since 1900.
World Wildlife Fund
Within the last year, the Fund supported a World Wildlife Fund project in Costa Rica aimed at reducing egg poaching of endangered leatherback sea turtles. Encouraging one-time poachers to instead become naturalists and ecotourism guides, the Fund’s support reduced the egg poaching rate at Costa Rica’s Playa Junquillal from 100 to zero percent in less than a year. In addition to supporting WWF’s rhino and tiger conservation efforts throughout Africa and Asia, the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund also helps WWF protect leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles vulnerable to bycatch in longline and coastal gill net fisheries.
SeaWorld San Diego is one of 10 Worlds of Discovery operated by Busch Entertainment Corporation, the family entertainment division of Anheuser-Busch InBev. Other Worlds of Discovery include SeaWorld parks in Orlando, Fla. and San Antonio; Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa, Fla. and Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, Va.; Discovery Cove in Orlando; Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa. near Philadelphia; Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water park in Orlando; and water parks Adventure Island in Tampa and Water Country USA in Williamsburg. Worlds of Discovery, based in Orlando, play host to more than 25 million guests each year and employ more than 21,000 people nationwide.
Leaders in conservation and education, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove care for the largest animal collection in the world and offer an animal-information Web site especially for students, teachers and other wildlife enthusiasts at www.seaworld.org. Information on the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund is at www.swbg-conservationfund.org. General park information is found at www.seaworld.com.
Media: For more information contact SeaWorld Public Relations at (619) 226-3929.
Updated: April 2009