For more than 50 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has played a vital role in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife and recently hit a sobering milestone –surpassing 34,000 animal rescues.
Yesterday marked World Oceans Day, reminding us of the many challenges impacting marine habitats and the critical issues - in particular plastic debris -facing marine animals. The planet’s oceans are teeming with rubbish - an estimated 5.25 trillion items that should not be in the water.
World Oceans Day 2017 focused on encouraging solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter. Plastic debris is one of the deadliest forms of pollution for thousands of marine animals including sea turtles, dolphins, sea lions, whales, and manatees that are trapped, injured, or killed by discarded plastics, hooks, and fishing line every year. The SeaWorld Rescue Team sees the danger marine debris poses to wild animals every day as they answer the call to help injured, orphaned, and ill wildlife.
“Our teams have witnessed first-hand the devastating effect of plastic pollution and marine debris on the thousands of animals we’ve rescued,” said Joel Manby, CEO SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “We are committed to educating our millions of park visitors about these issues, and reducing plastic waste in our parks by eliminating plastic shopping bags in our gift shops.”
Marine debris is a preventable issue and SeaWorld works to reduce human impact on habitats and wildlife through education. Teaching SeaWorld guests how seemingly small personal choices, such as properly disposing of rubbish or fishing gear while boating, can have big impacts on our shared environment and is an important step in changing behaviors that put humans and animals at risk.
Caring for imperiled animals has been a core value of SeaWorld. Each year the company provides its dedicated and experienced personnel including animal care specialists and veterinarians towards this mission. This, together with the time, materials and equipment is valued on average at about $10 million.
Working hand-in-hand with local, state, and federal agencies as well as rescue and rehabilitation partners, SeaWorld works tirelessly to help marine mammals like manatees, dolphins, otters, and sea lions; sea turtles and birds. The Busch Gardens animal care teams have also rescued and cared for a variety of wild animals including opossums, hummingbirds, owls, and other birds. All injured animals are given the critical and rehabilitative care they need with the ultimate goal of return to the wild. If they can’t be returned, those animals are given lifelong care at SeaWorld, Busch Gardens or another accredited or experienced zoological facility.