Wild Days Light Up SeaWorld Orlando

ORLANDO – Growing up in Puerto Rico, Celivette Diaz always dreamed of visiting SeaWorld.

“All of my cousins would come to Florida and talk about SeaWorld,” Diaz said. “They would tell me how amazing it was and I was always so jealous.”

Luck seemed to be on her side, because a few months ago, her parents surprised her with a trip to Florida. It just so happened that her trip would fall during a time where SeaWorld hosted their annual Wild Days event.

According to SeaWorld’s website, “Wild Days connects guests to the wild and wonderful world we all share, with educational and interactive shows that give guests the opportunity to meet leaders in the world of animal rescue, rehabilitation and preservation.”

“I didn’t know anything about Wild Days,”  Diaz said. “I’m happy I managed to make it to the second weekend because I love penguins.”

This year, Wild Days takes place every Saturday and Sunday on the last three weekends of January. Each weekend has a different theme to it. Diaz visited on the second weekend, which was Penguin Lovers’ Weekend.

Only for this weekend, SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassador Julie Scardina hosts a special penguin focused event where you can meet a penguin.

“I’ve had a lot of fun today,” said Diaz’s sister, Valeria. “They give you a map with spaces to get stamps from different places in the park. Once you get them all you get a free key chain.”

Wild Days is not just a one-on-one with animal experts. People of all ages can take part in various interactive games, up-close experiences and interesting, learning sessions at the 14 zones scattered throughout the park. Once inside select zones, guests can collect one of six stamps that leads to a free key chain and a behind-the-scenes tour of SeaWorld’s rescue area.

One of Diaz’s favorite places in the theme park was the Dolphin Cove area. This part of the park is where SeaWorld houses their dolphins and has them available for underwater viewing.

Diaz was vey excited to be near the dolphins.
Diaz was vey excited to be near the dolphins.

“Dolphins have always been my favorite animal,” Diaz said. “I would always see them on the television, but to see them so close to you is wonderful.”

Wild Days always draws in the crowds at SeaWorld. Even though the high today was 56 degrees, park hours were extended by 30 minutes because of the popularity of the event.

“It’s crazy how busy the park is right now,”  Kendall Starke said, an employee at one of SeaWorld’s attractions. “Usually now we’re in the middle of post-Christmas time slump.”

SeaWorld aims to educate people on the ways to keep animals and the environment safe. They have a special show that aims to teach guests about the care that their orca’s receive on a daily basis.

Even though she has always been a huge SeaWorld fan, Diaz was a bit disappointed in the company back when the documentary “Blackfish” came out. She, like many, believed that SeaWorld was mistreating their orcas.

“I was angry at them for a long time after watching the movie,”Diaz said. “But being here today and seeing how much love and care they give their animals tells me everything I need to know.”

The last weekend of Wild Days will occur on Jan. 30 – 31.

SeaWorld announces plans to end current orca shows for new ones

SeaWorld has been under fire from animal activists for the last several years after multiple accusations have been made regarding of their treatment towards the orcas and various other sea creatures used in their famous animal shows. This Monday, Nov. 9, SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby offered, what the park thinks, a solution.

via Creative Commons

SeaWorld is no stranger to negative backlash regarding their treatment of animals, but after the 2013 release of Blackfish, a documentary about the sea-park industry’s inhumane treatment of animals, the general public were exposed to the behavior. In the years following Blackfish’s release, even more information regarding SeaWorld’s treatment of animals came to light.

In March of this year, former senior orca trainer, John Hargrove, released a book titled Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish, further offering first-hand information on the despicable treatment of the animals. The information was so damaging to the park, SeaWorld even threatened the former trainer with legal action.

According to an interview National Geographic had with Hargrove in March after the release of his novel:

“[SeaWorld] is a bully who, for decades, has silenced trainers who threatened to speak out. But I’m not going to be silenced. I have a right to speak about my life and my experiences, and I’m not going to let a corporation like SeaWorld try to shut me up.”

After years of little to no action regarding the accusations, Manby announced their intention to reform their San Diego location by removing their “theatrical” orca shows in 2016. SeaWorld has not expressed any intention of ending the traditional performances at their Orlando location and even announced SeaWorld San Diego’s intention to continue with future orca performances, this time including “experiences that are more natural”.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, said “we urge SeaWorld to make its pledge more explicit, to phase out orca acts at all of its facilities, end its breeding program and work with us on a plan to put the orcas in suitable environments.”

 

The Orlando Sentinel reported SeaWorld’s stock closed at $17.91 after the announcement, 1.3 percent lower than the day before. These numbers suggest Americans are not satisfied with these changes and may feel SeaWorld should be doing more.