ORLANDO, Fla. - SeaWorld parks have removed drinking straws and plastic shopping bags from all 12 of its theme parks, the entertainment giant announced Friday.
SeaWorld Entertainment said all single-use plastic drinking straws and single-use plastic shopping bags have been removed as part of its mission to protect animals and habitats worldwide.
"This milestone environmental achievement is a testament to our mission to protect the environment, the ocean and the animals we share our planet with, which are currently threatened by unprecedented amounts of plastic pollution," said John Reilly, interim chief executive officer for SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. "We see the harmful effects of plastic pollution in the animals we rescue and rehabilitate, and therefore, recognize the importance of doing our part to curb plastic pollution."
The announcement comes on World Oceans Day.
"Recent news and studies have shown alarming consequences of the growing threat of plastics to our oceans and wildlife. The Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, estimates that 8 million metric tons of plastics enter the ocean each year, on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate the planet. This prevalence of plastics in the ocean has been making its way into the diets of marine animals that mistake it for food and become sick or even die," the park said in a news release.
"We've seen firsthand the horrific damage that plastic pollution causes to animals," said Jon Peterson, manager of rescue operations at SeaWorld Orlando. "Some studies have indicated that more than half of sea turtles out in the wild ingest some form of plastic. In fact, just this week, we performed surgery on a rescued sea turtle who became ill from ingesting plastic and other ocean debris."
The parks affected by the decision include SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica and Busch Gardens in Tampa.
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