Sea World is making the world a better place. Yes, I said that.

I know what you’re probably thinking. WTF, Baby Sideburns, didn’t you see that documentary about what they did to orcas? Yes, yes I did. And my hubby and I consciously decided NOT to take our kids to Sea World when we went to Orlando.

And then a few weeks ago I got an email asking if I wanted to bring Zoey on a free trip to Sea World and Discovery Cove to check it out. FREE!!! And do you know what I said? No way.

And then I slept on it. And when I woke up, I thought, wait a sec, I’m a smart person. I don’t base my decisions off of one thing I see in the media. So I opened up the Internet and I researched. And ultimately I decided to go there and make up my mind for myself. I knew I would have to write a post about it, but no one ever said it had to be a positive post. I went on my free trip to Sea World wondering how I would feel after, and this is what I learned:

1.

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This is shark finning. Horrible right? Just in case you don’t know what shark finning is, it’s when someone catches a shark, slices off his fins, and then throws him back into the ocean to die, all to make an Asian delicacy called shark fin soup. I shit you not. For a stupid bowl of soup, people brutally murder these magnificent creatures. Do you want to know how many sharks die this way every year? 73 million. Let that sink in for a moment. SEVENTY-THREE MILLION.

It’s illegal here, but it’s happening in oceans we don’t control so who is going to help stop it? I’ll tell you who. Sea World. They are putting large amounts of money, PR and research to put an end to it, and their parks educate thousands of people every day about this atrocity.

2.

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Sea World hasn’t taken an orca from the wild in almost forty years. I had no idea!! That’s not to say they never did. And it was wrong. Really wrong. But now Sea World is revamping their orca program, and already announced that they will no longer breed orcas and that this is their last generation of these awesome mammals. Do I support everything they’ve done? Definitely not. But I’ve done a LOT of things in the past that I regret, and I’m all about forgiveness when someone wants to move forward and start making positive changes. And they do.

3.

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Did you know that if you buy a “Dory” for your aquarium that she was stolen from a reef? But if you buy a “Nemo” that he was probably bred specifically for aquariums and is a much better choice? Yeah, I had no idea. But apparently fish breeding is crazy hard to achieve, so Sea World helped found an organization called Rising Tide Conservation to research breeding fish so we don’t have to steal them from the ocean anymore. They could totally pocket all the money they make from the parks, but they choose use some of it to make the world a better place.

4.

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Last but not least, Sea World has rescued over 28,000 animals. And not to put on display in their parks. To release back into the wild. They’ve saved huge whales caught in fishing line, they’ve created special formula to hand-feed orphaned animals, they’ve repaired cracked turtle shells, they’ve created prosthetic beaks for injured birds, etc etc etc. These are people who LOVE animals. LOVVVVVE them.

So am I glad I changed my mind and went to Sea World and Discovery Cove? Yes. Because A. It was super fun (see the pictures below). And B. They are doing amazing things for our planet.

SeaWorldCollage

Sloths and dolphins and sharks, oh my!!! Seriously, too much fun to show it all.

I’m happy to say in the end, I didn’t write this post because I had to. I wrote it because I wanted to. Their commitment to the planet seriously impressed me, and they couldn’t do it without the money they make from their parks.

If you liked this and you want to support companies that do amazing things for our planet, please don’t forget to like and share it. Thank you!!




There are 53 comments for this article
  1. Kathryn H at 8:14 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this! I’d always wanted to go to Sea World when I was a kid, especially after “Free Willy.” But after all the bad press, I figured it was something I’d never be able to do.
    My fiancé and I are planning our honeymoon in California after we get married next summer, and I hadn’t even taken Sea World into consideration, but your post has changed my mind, and I’m so glad to see an honest representation of this park.

  2. Heather Mitchell at 8:35 pm

    My children were born and raised in Orlando for the first ten years of their life. All of them spent at least one week each summer attending Sea World Camp, and the most important thing they all took away from the camps each summer were things about helping our planet. Not only could they tell amazing facts about sea mammals, but they’d also tell me, their mom, great things to help with conservation. We now live far away from Sea World, and if they had the chance, they would all go to Sea World Camp again in a heartbeat. Yes, Sea World has made mistakes, but I truly think they’ve learned from their mistakes. Even more, they are now dedicated to educating our children about the fragile marine ecosystem so that our children have a greater appreciation and respect for our planet.
    I’m glad that you, too, were able to discover and share the positive aspects of Sea World.

  3. Megan Fillner at 8:36 pm

    Thank you for writing this! I’ve been to Sea World many times growing up and have taken my kids a few times as well. I know what they are about and what their mission is. Anyone who walks through their gates will leave having learned something. It doesn’t matter if it is the first visit or their 1000th! I love their commitment to help animals as well as educate everyone about them. LOVED seeing all the cute pics of Zoey you have posted while on your trip. It is a visit she’ll never forget I promise!

  4. Cara at 8:44 pm

    Thank you for writing an educated post based on research and first hand experience. I hesitate visiting their because they did such wrong in the past and I’m unsure if they’re doing good now bc they truly realize the harm they caused or because they want the spotlight taken off of them. If I remember correctly, and perhaps this isn’t the case anymore, but they do breed their Dolphins. Which sounds good and harmless, except that they are inbreeding as they only have a couple females that can breed with. They lost a lot of baby Dolphins due to this inbreeding issue. Again, maybe this is no longer the case, and I hope it isn’t! I’d love to be able to take my kids there someday, so I’m hoping they keep doing good for the animals!

    • K at 10:11 pm

      Please please get your facts. There are plenty of breedable females,there is no inbreeding.They go through huge efforts to make sure related males and females are not together

    • Kat at 9:11 am

      They do continue to breed bottlenose dolphins, but there haven’t been any issues with inbreeding with them, and the only a few females thing isn’t true either. SeaWorld’s bottlenose dolphins are spread out through their 3 parks and Discovery Cove (there are over 50 of them in the Orlando park alone, not even counting discovery cove) and they also work with other accredited zoos and aquariums to further their gene pool by incorporating their dolphins into breeding programs as well as closely monitoring the females’ estrus cycles and utilizing dolphin birth control (it’s real, I swear). Maybe in the past they weren’t as good at keeping up with it because the technology we have now simply didn’t exist.

      The inbreeding you’re thinking of I’m assuming is from the instance of it with Killer Whales, which are technically the largest members of the dolphin family, that might be where the confusion comes from. In all of the SeaWorld parks, there is one inbred female, who I believe is 9 years old now, and has shown no issues as the result of (mother-son) inbreeding. A calf was produced at a lower percentage of inbreeding in another park in Spain, and she was rejected by her mother and hand reared, and did pass away before her 1st birthday. I don’t know if it was because she was rejected or because she was inbred, but that’s the only case that I can think of.

    • Tim at 4:39 pm

      As AZA accredited institutions, Sea World Parks’ breeding programs are highly regulated and researched to assure the most genetically diverse offspring and to avoid inbreeding.

  5. Cara at 8:47 pm

    Wow, I’ve always wanted to go back because I LOVED Sea World as a kid, but I couldn’t bear to support an organization that had such bad press & felt just like you about it. Too bad I didn’t do my own research & just “believed what I heard.” I will definitely put Sea World on our vacation list!

  6. Angela Johnson at 9:15 pm

    This is exactly what I said to my husband after we took the kids to Seaworld and Discovery Cove in May. I also think when people (especially children) get to learn about and see these animals up close, instead of on television or in a book, they’re more likely to have respect for the oceans and creatures in it. It makes them more real.

  7. Tori at 9:16 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to see for yourself what amazing things sea world does rather than taking one groups word for it!! And also, using your forum to help get the message across!

  8. Lesley at 9:24 pm

    No matter what tourists can learn there, there are wild creatures living in pools instead of oceans…. I’d rather learn things a different way.

    • Gianna Maio at 8:46 am

      So are you against horses penned in pastures then? Because it’s very much the same thing. I personally don’t see any reason why being penned is bad as long as they have enough space and excellent water quality. Which they do.

    • Grace at 8:54 am

      I do understand…but with all the hunting and ocean pollution (not to mention people who fight for no zoos but do nothing about saving oceans) is it really better? They are lover and cared for here.

    • Alyssa at 10:23 am

      You know what – it’s okay if you don’t think animals should be in captivity. If you know that sea world and other institutions provide world class care for their animals and you still think animals shouldn’t be in captivity, that’s fine. HOWEVER, if you believe that then you better d**n well be supporting conservation groups. And by support I mean send them your money. It’s not enough to sit on your b**t on your phone and be like yeah conserve, be free and wild! And you know an easy and fun way to support conservation? Is by going to your local zoo or aquarium. Weird how that works.

      • Debra Morgan at 7:46 pm

        Okay, Alyssa, let me ask you a question. Do you have a pet? A dog or a cat, maybe? Domesticated animals were once wild until humans took them out of the wild and began selectively breeding them for domesticated traits. This was thousands of years before Sea World and zoos.

        I haven’t been to a zoo or an aquarium in over 10yrs but not because I don’t like them or have anything against them. I just don’t have any close to me. The closest ones are a 6-8hr drive. I live in the mountains of eastern Washington and see lots of wildlife every day: deer, elk, moose, cougar, bears, coyotes, wolves, porcupine, racoon, eagles, loons, herons, hawks and falcons just to name a few.

        I love animals, ALL animals! I also believe that zoos and aquariums do a lot of good. Captive breeding programs have brought several species back from the brink of extinction. Rehab programs help to sustain the wild populations. I know of several people who became marine biologists or zoologists or veterinarians after being inspired as children at the aquarium or the zoo. That sounds pretty darn good to me!

        • Alyssa at 11:53 pm

          Debra,

          ….I’m sorry what? Are we having two different conversations?

          Yes animals were wild and then domesticated before sea world existed. True. What does this have to do with anything we’re talking about??

          So you don’t live near a zoo but you see wild animals regularly. Ok so? Your point is?

          You love animals. Great, good for you, you think zoos/aquariums are good for conservation and inspiration. Great, me too.

          In my above comment I said sea world gives world class care, so obviously I support them. And then I said a good way to conserve is by going to a zoo or aquarium so obviously I support them. So I really don’t understand your reply to me specifically.

          What I was trying to get across was that while I don’t agree with people who don’t like animals in captivity I respect their (hopefully educated) opinion. And that if they want animals to remain wild they should support conservation groups if they choose not to go the zoo. Usually people who think animals need to be “free” and “wild” don’t do squat to help animals at all.

          I support responsible zoos and aquariums, I support them so much that I forfeit a decent salary in order to have the opportunity to work at a zoo.

          So Debra, you LOVE animals, what do you do for them?

          • Debra Morgan at 1:34 am

            My apologies, Alyssa. My comment was meant for Lesley, not you.

            What do *I* do to help animals? I adopt animals from shelters rather than buy from breeders. Just until recently I volunteered at local animal shelters. I report animal cruelty if I see it. I also report animals at large so that they can be reunited with their families before they get hurt either by getting hit or by getting shot by scared people or fighting other dogs. I make sure that my pets are spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Though I have not been able to donate monetarily, I did donate a bunch of food to the local shelter when my cat died a few years ago at the age of 17. I also have done my best to instill a respect, if not love, of nature. That’s what I have done.

  9. Cb at 9:30 pm

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that people believe what they hear and see in the media. Just because there was a (one sided) movie and “bad press” people completely write off a business as being evil. That’s what the media would love for everyone to do. Come on people, think for yourselves!

    I’m so glad you decided to do your own research. It changed your mind when you actually saw it for yourself. I wish more people would be as open and independent minded as you were in this situation.

    • shirley Hanley at 10:29 pm

      It wasn’t just a one sided movie…what they reported about Orcas was true and this organization would have kept doing what they were doing if their practices were not brought to the forefront. I live in San Diego where Sea World is always on the news for their rescue work with seals and other wildlife and that’s commendable…what they have done to Orcas is not. They should continue to be closely scrutinized and need to provide a whole lot more space for those Orcas that continue to reside with them and can’t be released into the wild because of what this corporation has done to them.

      • Mary at 8:22 am

        This film was not true. It was one person’s film that they made with very little information. It was a movie not a documentary Netflix even moved it from its documentary group because it cannot be classified in that way. There were so many false things in that film even some of the people that were in the film spoke out against it saying their words were twisted and used the wrong way. Do you really believe every movie that you see is true ?

        • leesa at 11:39 pm

          Your full of s**t as well os the other people posting good things about Sea World. It was extremely true. They pry work there or paid them to say good things to redeem them. Fact is when you lock a 12k lb mammal in a tiny chamber just to breed or come out and do tricks which was the result of three peoples deaths they covered up, yes it is very real as well as cruel to Tillamook, the people that worked there are very real, I happen to know one of the trainers that told thier story. Do I think Sea World is bad? No. Do I think killer wales belong in their own habitat? Yes. End of story.

  10. shirley Hanley at 10:10 pm

    Very interesting post and yes I agree that people or companies that have done wrong and want to change and make restitution deserve a chance to do that and yes Sea World has helped a lot of wildlife. At the same time regarding Orcas they have told a lot of lies about Orcas in the past to continue their shows and maintain the status quo. I say give them a chance to prove themselves but let’s keep a close eye on what they’re doing for the Orcas that still reside with them.

  11. Jessica Hamilton at 10:34 pm

    Think this is a great post. I have some of the same struggles you do when it comes to zoos and Sea World…I live in Orlando and continue to support Sea World. We love it and they do so much good. Not to mention the inspiration they give to a younger generation to study and help our underwater pals.

    Also I about cried. Yes I actually did cry a little when I got to swim with a dolphin at Discovery Cove. It may have been the gre Chardonnay tho.

  12. Heather H. at 10:51 pm

    It not only warms my heart, but brought tears to my eyes to see someone with some prejudices against sea world give them a chance and see what I see, despite mistakes they’ve made, their conservation and rescue has made such a huge difference. Thank you so much for not only giving sea world a chance, but letting others know what you’ve observed and learned. I am sending you a huge hug 🙂

  13. Michelle at 12:34 am

    Thank you for writing this. I haven’t watched the infamous documentary because I was afraid it would scar me from going to Sea World but now that I’ve read your post about all the amazing things they do I will feel better about my next visit to Sea World!

      • Gianna Maio at 8:53 am

        The documentary is heavily biased and full of misinformation. For example, they show a trainer with a bloody face and say captive orcas and dangerous and unpredictable, leading you to believe an angry whale did that, but that trainer publicly said that it wasn’t even a whale who did that. He got the injury when he slipped and slammed into a backstage screen. Another example is they say the relationship between the trainers and animals are so tense that there is a horribly large number of injuries recorded, but SeaWorld reports every injury, even a scraped knee. In 50 years there has only been one death and three significant injuries related to the whales. The film does this again and again, very manipulative.

  14. Erin Kennedy at 12:44 am

    Thank you so much for visiting with an open mind! Thank you for your kind words about my wonderful company making the world a better place, we work hard to do that! However, inspiration of future generations is what will make the world a better place for years to come. I’m so glad that happened for you and your family. It is easy to hide behind a keyboard and say all kinds of things, true and untrue. It’s very hard to DO the right thing and look at things with an open heart and mind and allow initial reactions to be changed. It’s hard to stand up for something so amazing,when it is sooo uncool to like SeaWorld. As a SeaWorld fan, and employee. Thank you for your bravery.

  15. Debra Morgan at 1:46 am

    I was born in San Diego and have been to Sea World several times. I remember, as a little girl, sitting in the “splash zone” during the shows and getting absolutely drenched from head to toe. I even remember my mother pushing me around the park in one of the dolphin strollers once. I loved the tide pools and the sea lions and trying to feed the dolphins without the seagulls stealing it first.

    Sea World has been the gold standard in animal conservation and education for a very long time. The animals in their care are NOT mistreated. This includes any bred in captivity. Did you know that the capitve-bred Orcas at Sea World live just as long as wild Orcas? If they were being mistreated or inbred or anything else, they wouldn’t be living as long.

    You’re free to do what you want, but I’m going to support Sea World and their mission to save the animals in our oceans!

    • Lea J. at 4:59 am

      Not mistreated…..hmmmmm, being raped to secure sperm and then raped to be inseminated….that’s mistreatment in my book. The dairy industry is just as horrid when it comes to raping animals. Just think about what it takes for a mother to start producing milk (a birth) and for that milk to get into your glass a baby was taken away from its mother. They don’t put a cow and a bull in a room and just let things happen. Rape.

        • Cheryl at 8:14 am

          Thank you! Took the words right out of my mouth, Justin.
          Well, except for the word ‘numpty,’ but I’ll be using that from here out! ?

        • Lenalou at 4:50 pm

          I so wish there were “like” buttons on forums- This would be a definite thumbs up (except for the numpty, of course)!

          • Debra Morgan at 6:28 pm

            It has also brought several species back from the brink of extinction.

            I live in a rural, farming area. I have several friends that are cattle farmers including one who has an award-winning Angus herd. I asked a few of them how they inseminate their cows. Do you know what they said? That it’s rare that they do it artificially. Most of the time they just put the bull in the pasture with the cows. They castrate some of the older male calves so that they don’t breed with their mothers. But I’m sure you find that cruel, too.

  16. Candy Hart at 6:06 am

    I want to thank you for doing your research! So many people simply believe everything they read or see on the Internet and refuse to believe how much good SeaWorld does for animals. It’s refreshing to see a different approach.

  17. Christine Maxfield at 7:38 am

    How exactly is watching a movie and then getting a free trip and spewing the information provided by other party “doing research”? I’m sure the folks at Sea World were very convincing about how awesome they are. Why wouldn’t they be? They are trying desperately to recover from the PR nightmare of Black Fish.

  18. LisaK at 11:00 am

    Congrats on thinking for yourself and finding out the truth. Although I personally disagree with stopping the breeding program. But hey, at least you went and found out for yourself.

  19. Kia at 11:47 am

    I grew up going to Sea World. We went at least 2 times a year. It was my absolutely favorite place. I watched the documentary and cried during it. I lived in Orlando when the homeless man was killed there. He shouldn’t have been in that tank. My cousin is a marine biologist and used to work at Sea World and is a huge supporter of conservation. I asked her what her thoughts were about the film and she said there were parts that were false or sensationalized. After seeing the film I said I’d never go to Sea World again but I take my daughter to zoos so I’m being contradictory. My daughter has begged to go to Sea World but I’m still conflicted. We go to Mote Marine often and they rehabilitate animals to release but not all can go back to the wild so they stay there.

    The whale Tilikum was captured in 1983 so only 33 years ago, not almost 40, or at least I don’t consider 33 close to 40. Not trying to be bitchy, just an FYI.

    • Kay at 11:14 pm

      SeaWorld did not collect Tilikum. He was collected by a park in Canada where he lived until the early 1990s before coming to SeaWorld. His time at that park is what makes up the majority of Blackfish but it is very inaccurately represented in the movie as happening at SeaWorld.

  20. Donna at 11:32 am

    sorry this is not related to this blog….for some reason I can’t access your previous blog on IKEA…I’ve tried several times…just an FYI in case others are having issues…love your blogs by the way!!!

  21. esophian at 12:54 am

    I really really really think that you and everyone else commenting here should watch the documentary the Cove. it’s not specifically about Sea World, though they are mentioned in it, but it is a lot about how dolphins are treated and behave in captivity.

  22. Kay at 7:48 am

    Yay I love this post. When you live outside of Orlando, and we go to sea world at least 3 times a year! My 3 & a half year old absolutely loves it and has learned so much about the animals. We have all learned a lot about conservation and the oceans and I for one would be devastated if people stop going to SeaWorld and it closed. They do care about animals, they care about conservation, and it’s unfortunate that they have such a bad rap right now! Give SeaWorld a chance people!!

  23. Kelly at 8:46 am

    Your “research” is shitty at best. Let’s put you and your family in a small house for you to live the rest of your life in. We’ll take away your off spring and your husband and we’ll add some funky stranger you many or many not like in there with you. Wait, it doesn’t stop there. We’re now going to FORCE insemination upon you too, but we’ll take that off spring away from you, as well. Happy living!!! Those animals are meant to be in the wild. Not there for your entertainment. They swim for miles everyday in the wild. How is a tank giving them the best quality of life?

    Pet stores that sell “throw away” pets aren’t any better. They are just as disgusting as Sea World. Fish aren’t the only ones taken from the wild. ADOPT DON’T SHOP

    I don’t even need to watch “Black Fish” to know that what Sea World does is wrong. Sure they save so many. Yay for them! Maybe they should try thinking about the animals they have in captivity and how to give them a better life and to stop breeding them. They aren’t breeding them to save a dying species. They are breeding them for entertainment purposes only. You really don’t see how sick that is? And they aren’t learning anything new from them in captivity either. Maybe how to kill them faster. People who really care about these animals go out into the wild and study them and learn from them in their natural habitat. You know, where they should be.

    Sea World is funding their release program at the expense of other “healthy” animals. How is that a great place?

    You are teaching your children that this is the way to care for the creatures around us and how to care for our dying earth. You are part of the problem.

  24. Kate at 8:30 am

    It’s all good until I saw the picture of your kid with the dolphin. The swim with dolphins programs marine parks have shouldn’t exist. It is stressful for the dolphins and forces them to interact with humans even if they don’t want to because there is no where else for them to go. Not to mention it is dangerous for both humans and the dolphins.

  25. Kelly Mantyak at 2:37 am

    SeaWorld maybe trying hard to improve their image but it is still cruel to keep dolphins and orcas in captivity. If you have seen Blackfish you know how they lied to the public about how long orcas live in captivity compared to the wild and explained the collapsed dorsal fin. They always put a spin on the truth. They’re stopping their orca breeding program but in reality the orca whose sperm they use is ill and dying and they waited till more were pregnant before quitting.
    Go to The Cove or PETA pages on Facebook and you can see some of the treatment of their orcas/dolphins where the spectators can’t see. Their teeth are cracked, filed down from biting the concrete. Watch the video of a tube being forced down their throat from being dehydrated from not being able to eat for long hours at night. There’s nothing natural about them needing antidepressant medication or being motionless staring at the concrete walls. Many are scratched and hurt from mistreating each other or banging against the tanks. Have you seen the video of the orca deliberately beaching itself on the stage? There’s also one of a dolphin bleeding on the concrete after colliding with another dolphin during a show. The chlorine causes skin, lung and eye problems.
    You mentioned some educational facts you learned while there which is great. Why do they need to have these intelligent and social creatures in captivity for entertainment to educate people? Fact, dolphins can choose not to take a breath and have committed suicide from being in captivity. The main dolphin used for Flipper committed suicide in the arms of her former trainer who now leads the way in the fight to empty the tanks.
    I have done the Dolphins swims in other countries and gone to SeaWorld but will never support these again after being more educated about the issues.

  26. leesa at 6:49 am

    Well while they have not taken an orca in years they have used ONE trapped in small quarters a 12 THOUSAND POUND whale flew him all over to basically STUD him out. Regardless what the situation is, it is wrong. Leave animals and aquatic creatures in their natural habitat period. Take kids on nature hikes natural wildlife places make them watch documentaries. And I do know of one of the trainers. Its ALL SAD.

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