SeaWorld reaches historic milestone of more than 40,000 rescues

Recue efforts first began in 1965

SeaWorld rescue and rehabilitation reaches milestone of 40K

ORLANDO, Fla. – SeaWorld has reached a historic milestone in its rescue and rehabilitation operations.

SeaWorld on Tuesday announced that it has rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 40,000 animals in the history of the company.

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The company mission of helping animals in need first began in 1965, when they rescued a beached Dall’s porpoise. Since that time, SeaWorld has helped save a number of diverse species, such as aquatic birds, pinnipeds, turtles, manatees, whales, dolphins, otters and a wide range of other mammals and fish.

“Our teams are responsible for the care and well-being of thousands of animals – both those rescued and in residence – and while we’d much rather live in a world where wildlife doesn’t need our help to thrive in healthy abundance, that’s not today’s reality,” said Dr. Chris Dold, Chief Zoological Officer of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. “Rescue and rehabilitation can save the lives of individual animals, and in some cases supports the preservation of endangered and threatened species, like the Florida manatee. That is why we do this work, and why it is so important for accredited zoos and aquariums like ours to continue efforts to help animals that cannot survive on their own.”

SeaWorld has reached a historic milestone in its rescue and rehabilitation operations. SeaWorld on Tuesday announced that it has rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 40,000 animals in the history of the company.

Each of SeaWorld’s theme parks have dedicated staff, veterinarians and rescue and rehabilitation facilities. The company said each one is equipped to care for the species most often rescued. Seals, sea lions and sea otters are found more on the West Coast, while manatees and dolphins are rescued on the East Coast.

SeaWorld announces 40,000 Rescues (SeaWorld)

SeaWorld said the main goal is to return rescued animals to their natural environments, however, sometimes the animals’ health conditions make it so they are non-releasable. In those instances, SeaWorld and wildlife officials will determine the best place for the animal to receive future care.

One example of that was in December when SeaWorld Orlando moved a dolphin and sea turtle to their forever homes at the Clearwater Maine Aquarium.

SeaWorld Orlando’s park has also been critical in recent months as Florida’s manatee population faces a troubling decline due to habitat loss and pollution. Last month, park leaders announced that they would be adding more space to accommodate the increasing numbers of sick and injured manatees they were receiving.

SeaWorld added more pools for injured manatees this week as manatee deaths have risen in the Indian River Lagoon. WKMG (WKMG)

In addition to manatees at the Central Florida park, SeaWorld is one of several agencies teaming up to save Florida’s coral reefs. They established the Florida Coral Rescue Center, a new facility for coral colonies to receive world-class care and reproduce with the help of a team of coral experts. The work is already showing signs of positive results. SeaWorld said last month, researchers documented one type of coral producing offspring - a first in human care.

Click below to see interview with leader of SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team.

While some animals are being rehabilitated, teams are also gaining critical information that might not be learned in the wild. SeaWorld said studies of dolphins in their care has led to significant veterinary advances involving blood parameters, milk matrix, intubations, surgeries, and stem cell therapies. All of these studies help lead to improved animal rescue, health and triage.

“The emotion of truly touching an animal, help an animal, and return that animal to its natural environment is an emotional roller coaster,” said Jon Peterson, Vice President of Zoological Operations and Head of SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team. “This all happens because of the hard work, dedication of our team and also every guest that steps into our park.”

SeaWorld 40,000 Rescues (SeaWorld)

A portion of proceeds from SeaWorld tickets and in park purchases goes toward funding rescue and rehabilitation. SeaWorld is a professionally accredited zoo and one of the largest marine animal rescue organizations in the world.

Guests can learn more about the rescue and rehabilitation work that is ongoing while visiting the park, taking an animal tour or participate in a summer camp.

Click here to learn more about SeaWorld’s rescue, rehabilitation and return program.

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About the Author:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.